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Akron, Ohio

Deputy Fire Chief Edward Hiltbrand Promoted to Fire Chief

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Fire Chief Robert Ross Appointed to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety

City of Akron Press Release
Published: 01-29-2015

Today, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced that Deputy Fire Chief Edward Hiltbrand will be promoted to Fire Chief, after serving in Akron’s Fire Department for 29 years, the past nearly 12 years as Deputy Chief.   The Mayor also announced that he is tapping soon-to-be retired Fire Chief Robert Ross to be his Deputy Mayor for Public Safety.  For budgetary reasons this position has not been filled for the past four years. Given the exigent circumstances in the Fire Department, this step is being taken to help fill the leadership void throughout the Department.

“Hiltbrand has the experience, temperament and skills to do this job well,” noted Mayor Plusquellic.  “He will be able to hit the ground running and competently serve the citizens of Akron.  I look forward to working more closely with Hiltbrand in his new role as Chief.” 

“I am honored to be the next Fire Chief for the City of Akron,” said Deputy Chief Hiltbrand.  “I understand the great responsibilities of a Fire Chief and I am looking forward to this new challenge.  I have to admit though, that I am also relieved that Chief Ross is continuing in some capacity with the City of Akron.  He is an invaluable resource and mentor.”

Although these moves are necessitated by Chief Ross’ retirement, the tumultuous and lengthy firefighter litigation has also played a role by preventing supervisory positions in the Akron Fire Department from being filled.  Due to the Plaintiffs’ unreasonable demands in the firefighter lawsuit, and Federal Judge Adam’s lack of understanding of the dire situation he has left Akron’s Fire Department in for the past 11 years, Akron’s Fire Department has a massive void in its supervisory ranks.  The upcoming retirement of Chief Ross has pushed the Fire Department’s already emaciated ranks to its limit. 

“Chief Ross has given the City of Akron Fire Department over 33 years of dedicated service and has earned his right to retire.  But, with the huge vacuum created in the supervisory ranks of the AFD, Ross’ institutional knowledge and mastery of the issues facing the Fire Department are still needed,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic.   “Chief Ross will still be available for guidance, and he will continue to be the City’s representative in the Summit County Emergency Management Agency’s (EMA) Domestic Preparedness Steering Committee, the Summit County EMA Executive Committee, and the Summit-Akron Radio System Committee.  This will permit Hiltbrand to be able to spend more time directly on the tough issues in the Fire Department.  However, with Hiltbrand moving up, the supervisory positions are left in an even more stressed state.  These vacancies are putting the safety of our firefighters and our citizens in jeopardy and, at this point, I blame both the Plaintiffs and Judge Adams.”   

"I am honored to be able to keep serving the citizens of Akron as Akron’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety.  Besides the Mayor, there is nobody that wants to see the Fire Department back at full strength more than me, and I believe I can help get us there.  Mayor Plusquellic has tried everything possible to properly get the high ranking supervisory positions in the Fire Department filled,” noted Chief Robert Ross.  “It is not for lack of trying, negotiating, or imagination on the Mayor’s part that these ranks remain vacant.  After proposing every well-recognized method, as used in other cities, to fairly promote (i.e. written tests or seniority), the Mayor has even gone so far as to suggest picking names out of a hat just to fill the positions – and he was not kidding.”

To keep the Fire Department running properly and to maintain the high level of service Akron’s citizens have come to depend on, Mayor Plusquellic is now considering other creative ways to fill the high ranking supervisory fire personnel positions throughout the Department.  He will be working with the new Chief and the Union President, Russ Brode, to implement these ideas and move the Fire Department forward.

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For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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