City to create assistant fire chief position

Cary Ashby • Updated Sep 12, 2019 at 2:34 PM

NORWALK — City officials are moving forward to create an assistant fire chief position. 

Councilwoman Samantha Wilhelm, councilman Dave Wallace and president Steve Euton are sponsoring the legislation. Law director Stuart O’Hara said the position will be unclassified and open to the captains and lieutenants in the department, and the selection won’t have to go through the civil service commission.

If the department hires from within, O’Hara said it opens up the possibility of adding a firefighter, which would “obviously increase the budget.”

“We won’t have an assistant chief until 2020,” Wilhelm said, referring to the process of agreeing on, and the approval of, the legislation and selection process.

In other Norwalk Fire Department news, Capt. Rick Perry notified council the department applied for and received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for communications equipment. The grant is worth about $813,000

Perry has taken over some leadership responsibilities while fire Chief John Soisson recovers from a major life event.

“We won an enormous grant,” Wilhelm said after the meeting.

The FEMA grant will provide radios for all the Huron County first responders so they can communicate more effectively. Wilhelm said firefighters have a year to select the equipment “that is best for them.”

“We’re the lead agency in the grant,” O’Hara said, referring to the Norwalk Fire Department.

Other council news

Council did not create any legislation Tuesday to address a golf cart recently being driven on the Sofios Family Park sidewalks and boardwalk. 

It is illegal to operate golf carts on the sidewalks and in the roads in the city. The exceptions are if they are being used by city employees for municipal purposes or as “a construction project vehicle,” officials said.

In 2016, council rejected legislation by a 4-3 vote that would have allowed golf carts in the city.

Wilhelm shared insight on the issue from parks and recreation superintendent Joe Lindenberger during Tuesday’s meeting. 

“Joe put it this way, ‘There’s no reason to enact legislation for one person,’” said Wilhelm, who represents the third ward. “This one guy (who drove the golf cart) was doing this a lot at Sofios Park. It seems like we took the adult route.”

Councilwoman Deb Lucal, who represents the first ward, said the person “didn’t understand” the situation.

“Joe talked to him and understands he’s not supposed to drive there,” she said. “He didn’t understand the rules, so he’s good (now).”