Urbana Firefighter/Paramedic Chad Countryman was promoted Jan. 16 to the position of fire captain with the Urbana Fire Division. He will be sworn in in the near future. His promotion comes following the retirement of Capt. James Freeman.
Countryman said he never thought he would be in this leadership position.
“I was excited and content with being a fireman for years. I’ve enjoyed that,” Countryman said. “To be a career firefighter that was my childhood goal or dream so just making it to that point was great.”
A member of the fire division since 2007, Countryman is originally from the southern Ohio area and previously worked part time at the Washington Township Fire Department and Riverside Fire Department.
While working at Washington Township, Countryman worked with Urbana Capt. Jason Croker.
“I came to know him and he was the one who let me know about when they were testing here,” Countryman said. “He’s kind of the reason I’ve made it this far north.”
Countryman said his tenure with the Urbana Fire Division has been exciting and challenging as the division is unique.
“We’ve got a lot of different jobs on any given day,” he said. “One of the things that I like about working here is as a fireman you don’t know – from a medic run, to a structure fire, to going out and doing fire inspections it’s very dynamic so it keeps you interested and busy.
“I would never have liked working a factory-type job and doing the same thing every day and this is very, very dynamic. You get to do so many different things, you get to have impact on people’s lives on a regular basis and it’s exciting and rewarding.”
Urbana Fire Chief Mark Keller said for the captain position the division looks for leadership skills where a person is able to hold people accountable and has initiative to get things done.
As the division transitioned to new airpacks, Countryman accepted the role of inspecting the equipment, making sure equipment is annually tested and the members of the division are fitted properly.
“We switched over to a different manufacturer of airpacks when we got the grant several years ago and from that point on he had taken that on,” Keller said. “We have to test those annually and things like that are detail oriented things that we need to get done that he’s taken on and been able to complete.”
Keller also said Countryman has taken on a leadership position in training newer firefighters to make sure they are trained to where they need to be.
Countryman said it was a few years ago when he started looking at trying to obtain the fire captain position. As a fire captain, Countryman said he can have more influence on how the daily operations are done within the division which is a reason why the position interested him.
“Having the opportunity to mentor new hires kind of sparked an interest in me to be able to do that on a bigger scale perhaps and hopefully do that for more than just the new guys,” Countryman said.
Countryman said Capt. Jerry Kirk, Keller and other firefighters he has worked with have been helpful during the promotional process.
When he learned of the promotion, Countryman said he was equally excited and nervous.
“It’s a big step but with it comes an awesome amount of responsibility,” Countryman said. “Not only do I have to make sure that we as fire division are prepared to go out and do what we need to do for the community, but I’ve also got these six guys who I’ve got to make sure go home every morning to their families. You cannot put into words – I don’t think – the responsibility of a shift captain of the Urbana Fire Division.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.