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Fire Chief – City of Oberlin, Ohio

The Position

The Fire Chief provides leadership and administration to the Fire Department and serves as the Emergency Management Director to assist with the City’s overall emergency management and preparedness. Responsibilities include managing the Fire Department by developing community risk management strategies; planning and implementing policies; hiring, training, and evaluating personnel; and preparing and monitoring budgets. The Fire Chief works under the supervision of the City Manager.  The position is open due to the retirement of a long-serving Fire Chief.

Oberlin Fire is a combination department with five full-time positions (Assistant Chief and three drivers) and 27 part-time on-call personnel operating from a single fire station with a complement of ten fire/rescue apparatus. It provides fire-rescue services to an area spanning 25 square miles encompassing the City of Oberlin and adjacent New Russia Township including an airport and major landfill and recycling operation. It performs fire inspections and code enforcement, issues fire code permits, reviews fire protection systems for proposed construction, conducts community public education programs, and maintains control of hazardous materials. The Department provides first responder EMS services as part of an agreement with Mercy Allen Hospital (Central Lorain County Ambulance district).   Dispatch services are provided through Lorain County 911 Agency.

In 2014, the Department responded to 580 incidents, including 29 fire incidents. Response time was less than eight minutes in 86% of the incidents.  The Department’s 2015 budget is $771,635.

The Organization

Oberlin operates under the Council-Manager form of government. A seven-member City Council establishes a vision for Oberlin and hires a City Manager to carry out policy and ensure that all residents are being equitably served. The City Manager coordinates the work of department heads and other employees in delivering municipal services.

In addition to the City Manager, the Law Director, Finance Director, and City Clerk are appointed by the governing body.


Applicants should have a proven record of leadership including graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a major in fire science, management, public or business administration, or a related field; ten (10) years of increasingly responsible command and management experience in a comparable size municipal or combination fire department; and three (3) years of management responsibility, preferably as Training Officer, Battalion or Assistant Fire Chief, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Graduation from Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) or Ohio Fire Executive (OFE) Program strongly preferred. Successful completion within one year of hire may be required. Master’s degree in a fire service related field preferred.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal Fire Chief will be a customer-focused fire administrator, with a broad background in all aspects of service delivery including strategic planning, fire prevention and inspection, emergency medical, technical rescue, training, and suppression. The ideal candidate will be highly visible and active in the community and understand the needs of residents, businesses, and institutions, yet remain focused on providing a safe environment for residents, students, and visitors. This position requires a visionary leader with exceptional character and integrity, strong communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to develop effective working relationships. The next Fire Chief will be able to communicate the reasoning behind the codes, educate residents and businesses on prevention, and be a leader in the fire service in the region.  The Chief will be accessible and approachable to fire personnel, residents, and businesses, and will seek out ways to reach into all parts of Oberlin to ensure safety. The next Chief will be committed to diversity in recruitment and retention, professional development of personnel and be able to lead and empower staff in a well-functioning combination fire department.

The Community

Oberlin is a community of 4.92 square miles with 8,286 residents, just 35 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers who wanted to create a community along with a school for training missionaries who would eventually spread out all over the American frontier. Towards the middle of the 19th century, Oberlin became a major focus of the abolitionist movement in the United States. The town was conceived as an integrated community, and blacks attended Oberlin College from 1835. By 1852, the town of Oberlin was an active terminus on the Underground Railroad, and thousands had already passed through it on their way to freedom.

The community is home to Oberlin College, which was founded in 1833 and is an independent coeducational institution.  It has two divisions: the College of Arts and Sciences, with approximately 2,300 students, and the Conservatory of Music, with approximately 600 students, for a total of approximately 2,900 students.  Oberlin College is highly selective and dedicated to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds.  It was the first truly coeducational college in the United States, as well as the leader in admitting and educating women and African American students.

Oberlin derives many of its values from this rich history and is proud of its strong diverse population, in terms of racial, ethnic, age, and socioeconomic makeup. Today, Oberlin enjoys a population with 73% of its residents as white, nearly 15% African American, about 5% Hispanic and 4% Asian.  About 40% of its residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared with 24.5% for the rest of Ohio.) The median value of housing is $139,500, and its largest employer is Oberlin College. The community is served by the Oberlin School District, which has a high school, a middle school and two elementary schools.

The City is conveniently located 10 miles south of Lake Erie, 23 miles southwest of the City of Cleveland and less than 10 miles from the cities of Elyria and Lorain. It is easily accessible by State highways and the interstate highway system.  Oberlin College has helped to foster a community that is ideal for families and retirees.  Kendal at Oberlin, a 325-resident continuing-care community, opened in 1993.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the second largest employer in the City.

The Oberlin Industrial Park is home to high tech renewable energy and biomedical firms while its vibrant downtown district is home to unique shops and restaurants.  The downtown is immediately adjacent to Oberlin College’s campus featuring acts and cultural amenities such as Allen Memorial Art Museum, Hall Auditorium, and the historic Apollo Theater.  A new LEED certified hotel to replace the Oberlin Inn is under construction.

In recent years, the City has earned many regional, state and national awards and recognitions, including:

  • “Climate Action Champion” – A designation by the White House recognizing Oberlin for leadership and commitment in the fight against climate change
  • Team NEO Economic Development “Plus Award” for Business Retention/Expansion
  • “Best Hometown” in Northeast Ohio 2012 by Ohio Magazine
  • “Best Intergenerational Communities” award by Generations United
  • “Clean Energy Community of the Year” by Green Energy Ohio
  • Team NEO Economic Development “Plus Award” for Business Attraction

Ohio Public Information Law – All applicant materials are subject to Ohio’s Sunshine Law and are subject to open records requests.

The City of Oberlin is a Drug-Free Workplace and an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and values diversity at all levels of its workforce. Women and minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

For additional information about the Oberlin Police Department and the City of Oberlin, visit the City’s website at:

Oberlin 2025 Vision

Oberlin will continue to be a proactive, trend-setting leader in social and racial justice and economic and environmental sustainability. We will continue to encourage an environment where diverse and innovative ideas flourish.

Fire Department Mission
As members of the community, the Oberlin Fire Department is committed to protecting lives, property and the environment by providing public education, fire suppression and life safety services to those we serve.”

The Department’s P.R.I.D.E. core values are:


The salary range is $66,359–$107,527, depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefit package.

How to Apply

This position has been filled and is no longer available.
Thank you for your interest.

Apply Online

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Apply online by at and include cover letter, resume with salary history, and 3-5 professional references. Open until filled with first review of applications May 11, 2015.


Questions should be directed to Catherine Tuck Parrish at (240) 832-1778.

Download the full brochure here.