SOLON– For the first time in almost two decades, Solon has a new fire chief.
Bob Siddell, 52, was elected to the post by the fire department’s membership earlier this month and was officially appointed by the Solon City Council at a meeting June 5.
A 29-year member of the Solon Fire Department, Siddell has spent most of his life in Solon, having moved here at the age of six. Since 1996, he served as first assistant chief.
Siddell replaces retiring chief Dan Smith, a 39-year veteran of the Solon department. Smith has served as Solon chief for 17 years, appointed at the same time Siddell became assistant.
“I’d like to acknowledge Dan for his leadership for the fire department,” Mayor Cami Rasmussen said during the June 5 session. “The fire department is a source of pride for our community and we appreciate all that Dan has done and congratulate Bob.”
Scott Wolfe was voted in as first assistant chief, and Jon Reyhons selected as second assistant chief. The department’s officers are voted on annually.
The Solon department currently has 29 members, and provides emergency services to Big Grove, Newport, Cedar and Graham Townships, as well as the City of Solon. In 2012, the department received a record number of calls.
“I consider it one of the top volunteer units in the state,” said newly-appointed chief Siddell, noting the firefighters were well-perceived and supported by the community.
Siddell’s father was a volunteer firefighter in Hiawatha. “That’s kind of how I got my start,” he said. He was voted onto the Solon department in May 1984.
As chief, Siddell will be responsible for the final decisions regarding operations and procedures for Solon’s fire service and first responders. He said he expects to look to his officers for ideas to improve the department and plan for the future.
That future includes a recently purchased truck and an expansion of the fire department building.
The volunteer department has just taken delivery on a brand new $480,000 pumper, Engine 131, which has seating for six firefighters and will incorporate the latest in safety technology. The new truck replaces a 1991 vintage pumper, which is being put up for sale by the department.
Siddell said he expects Engine 131 to be in service yet this month.
Plans for the building expansion are not set in stone, but Siddell said the department would like to add on to the southwest corner of the structure within five years to provide additional meeting and storage space.
“We’re pretty well maxed out,” he said of the existing building.