GUILFORD TWP. — The assistant fire chief in Lafayette will lead the Seville/Guilford department in the new year.
Township trustees decided during a special meeting Nov. 9 to hire Brad Winter, Trustee Bob Rohrer said.
Winter, 45, will succeed Jerry Winkler, who was elected Nov. 7 as a Guilford Township trustee. He earned 538 votes (22.92 percent) among five candidates running for two seats, according to unofficial results from the Medina County Board of Elections. Gene Morris won the other seat.
“It has always been a goal of mine to become fire chief,” Winter said Friday. “The village of Seville and Guilford Township is a wonderful community to serve and I’m looking forward to that.”
Winter will be sworn in as chief after Jan. 1 when Winkler transitions to his new role and Winter obtains his paramedic’s license, Rohrer said.
His annual salary will be $63,000.
Winter, who has been on the Lafayette department since 1990, was one of four candidates who applied for the chief position, Rohrer said.
Rohrer said trustees were set on hiring an external candidate, and Winter’s education and qualifications stood out.
“He came from a department that’s similar to our size and it seemed like he would fit in well,” Rohrer said. “And he had a lot of good ideas and goals.”
Winter said first and foremost, his goal is to learn the ropes of the department and form a relationship with its 37 full- and part-time and volunteer members.
“I want to meet with each and every person on an individual basis and learn how the department functions,” he said. “I can’t change anything that I don’t understand or what I don’t know, and I want to take that time and look and watch and see how everyone interacts.”
“From an outsider looking in, I’ve always seen them provide excellent service,” he continued. “I want to know and learn what that chemistry is.”
Winter started his career as a cadet in the Explorers program with the Chatham Township Fire Department. The youth program, affiliated with Boy Scouts of America, is for kids ages 14 to 21 who wish to pursue careers as firefighters and paramedics.
He then joined the Chippewa Lake Fire Department, which merged with Lafayette in 1999.
“Because of my experience being in the Explorers program, they brought me in as chief of the Explorers post and I got to work with the Chippewa Lake fire chief at the time,” Winter said. “It was a neat start.”
In 1990, he started as a basic firefighter with the Lafayette department. He worked through his fire and EMS certifications, became a fire safety inspector and fire instructor, and completed fire officer courses.
Winter was appointed assistant chief in 2008 under Chief Jeff Hall.
“It’s very exciting to be able to go up in the rankings,” Winter said. “One thing I like to do is develop people and help them succeed in their careers, and I’m very excited to get started.”
In April 2015, Winter graduated from the 13th class of the Ohio Fire Executive leadership program through the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association.
“That was a pivotal time for me,” Winter said. “The 2ﾽ-year program teaches you everything from budgeting to leadership, to empowering firefighters and EMTs in their career. I learned the value of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association and the wonderful programs that they offer and the mentorship within the association.”
During the program, Winter said he completed a research project, titled “Ineffective Leadership and How It Affects Services Provided by a Fire Department,” which focused on volunteer departments.
“I understand that time is a factor in the number of volunteers that are dropping off the rosters of fire departments across the United States,” he said. “I have to look at the leadership of the department, if time is truly a factor for people, and look at how people value their time. That, in turn, I have to value their time which means giving them quality training programs, making them a positive culture at work and clear expectations. My research based on the survey received from Lafayette definitely pointed to that.”
Winter works full time for Carroll Glass in Euclid as an assistant superintendent. He said he’s been in the construction industry since 1990, previously with Architectural Products Inc. for 25 years.
He resides in Westfield Township with his wife, April, and six children “age 6 months to 31 years that are furry and have four legs,” which include two golden retrievers, two barn cats and a horse.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.