TEMPERANCE — After almost a year during which the position has been vacant, Bedford Township soon will have a new fire chief.
Last week, the township board voted unanimously to hire Rudy Ruiz, a more-than-20-year veteran of the Sandusky Fire Department, to fill the post left vacant by the April 1 retirement of longtime Fire Chief John Bofia.
Mr. Ruiz, 51, is a former Toledoan and a graduate of Woodward High School and the University of Toledo. He will be paid a $70,000 salary and expects to start in mid-March. He also will receive a pension contribution equal to 13 percent of his salary, a work vehicle, two weeks’ vacation his first year, a $50,000 life-insurance policy, and health insurance including vision and dental coverage.
Mr. Ruiz started with the Sandusky department as a full-time firefighter in 1991 and performed a variety of duties over his career, including working as a paramedic, department training instructor, city fire investigator, and Erie County emergency management liaison.
Since 2006, he has been the Sandusky department’s fire marshal, a job that includes overseeing risk-reduction activities and also has him performing the duties of public information officer, community educator, coordinator of recruiting, and grants administrator.
The township received 33 resumes when it advertised the open position. Officials interviewed six candidates and winnowed those finalists to three, all of whom were considered highly qualified. But Mr. Ruiz was “a step above,” Treasurer Paul Francis said.
Trustee Larry O’Dell said Mr. Ruiz was the top pick in part because he believed in training firefighters and upgrading their certifications.
Supervisor Greg Stewart said Mr. Ruiz handled himself very well during the interview process, showing a skill with words.
He added that he believed the new hire was the person to bring calm to the fractious fire department, which has been the subject of speculation and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption, theft, and malfeasance on the Internet and in certain circles.
The rumors and complaints reached such a pitch that the township began an investigation in August that included interviews with a dozen firefighters.
The probe turned up no corruption or theft, but did find command deficiencies and a need to review and revise operating guidelines, rules, and regulations.
The paid, on-call township department has two full-time positions: the chief and fire inspector. Officers get a yearly stipend, and firefighters are paid $16 per run.
Mr. Ruiz told board members he was a believer in collecting data and using it to help formulate policy. He said he would be making at least one presentation per month to the board on fire department activities.
The fire service, he said, was a family, and “my job as fire chief is to make sure those firefighters go home safe,” he explained.
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