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Tag Archive | "Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake"

Solon Fire Chief to step down

Plans to spend time with family

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake was the first firefighter on scene at this fire in Howard City. Courtesy photo.

by Judy Reed

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake brought a lot of experience to a rural fire department when he was hired by Solon Township to take over the reins in the fall of 2012. He’s made a lot of improvements, but after almost 8-1/2 years, he feels the time is right to step down.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake is stepping down from his role. Courtesy photo.

“My motto is God first, family second, and then work,” said Drake. “I’ve been bringing the job home. I want to enjoy the last few years with our three boys at home. I’ve said I’m not going to get another second job and I mean it.”

Drake already had a full-time job with the Plainfield Township Fire Department when he was hired at Solon. He has worked for Plainfield Fire for 37 years and serves as a district chief. The skill and knowledge that he brings from there has helped him to accomplish quite a bit for Solon Township.  

Some of the accomplishments that Drake is proud of include:

  • Improving the townships ISO rating to bring residents’ insurance rates down;
  • Setting up automatic aid with neighboring townships;
  • Joining MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) which is tied to automatic aid;
  • Being awarded the DNR grant for $15,000 for the ACCD (automatic chest compression device);
  • A new fire tender that holds 4,000 gallons of water;
  • Creation of a full-time firefighter staff position;
  • Helping some Solon firefighters get positions at Plainfield Township to get more experience.

“He’s done a great job during his time here,” said Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick. “Our safety issues have never been better, and our equipment is much better than it was before he came. He’ll be missed. He’s a great guy. The firefighters have great respect for him.”

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, however. Drake said the number one problem has been retaining staffing. “That’s a problem with all rural departments,” he said.

Currently Solon has 15-16 firefighters on staff, but he’d like to see at least 20. Last year they hired five, but also lost five.

Staff minutes show that there have been some problems recently with firefighters not responding to calls and other departments needing to respond. But that’s not necessarily a new problem. Most of the firefighters have full time day jobs as well. 

And most recently, Drake and the township have had differing visions for the fire department. “We were at a crossroads, and I chose to leave,” explained Drake. But he harbors no ill will. “It’s always just been about service to the community,” he said.

Ellick said that they are hoping to promote someone from within the department to take over.

For the next few weeks, Drake will be handling administrative duties and waiting to pass the torch to the next Chief. “I’m happy to train the new Chief and set them up for success,” he said.

“I have nothing but best wishes for my successor and safety for the team.”

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