Avon Lake Fire Chief Glen Eisenhardt, promoted in December 2011, has voluntarily stepped down from the position, citing family reasons.
In a resignation letter to dated Dec. 5, Eisenhard called the decision “one of the most difficult” he has had to make, requesting a voluntary demotion to his former position of lieutenant.
Avon Lake fire lieutenant Chris Huerner, who has been on the force since 1991, is expected to be sworn in as fire chief at the Dec. 17 council meeting. Huerner, who has held the position of lieutenant for 11 years, placed second on the Civil Service exam in 2011 that determined who would replace retiring chief Bill Morris.
Eisenhardt said the past year was a trial period to discover “if I was right for the position and the position was right for me."
He cited family as the reason to step down at a Dec. 6 press conference.
“I have a young family,” Eisenhardt said, adding he wants to spend more time with his 8-year-old son, 2-year-old daughter and wife, Amie.
Eisenhardt, 36, was promoted on Dec. 18, 2012. His resignation will be effective Dec. 18, the conclusion of the required one-year probationary period each fire department personnel must complete to ensure the position is a good fit.
“I have two passions,” Eisenhardt said. “My family and fire services. In my position, this job is very important and (it's important) that the person conforms to the responsibilities of the job.
At this pace, I don’t want to miss my children growing up."
He was satisfied with his year's performance.
“By all professional account, this year has been a huge success, but the downside is, I was still missing my family,” Eisenhardt said.
Eisenhardt said he was satisfied with overseeing three major projects since becoming chief: Moving the city over to the 9-1-1 dispatch system, renovating a ladder truck instead of purchasing a new one and passing the paramedic levy.
Huerner, 47, will be the fourth fire chief the city has seen since May 2006 and the second chief in the past decade to voluntarily step down. In 2006, Lt. Larry Grizzell voluntarily resigned the position of chief and was replaced by Bill Morris who retired in December of 2011. Grizzell stepped down after peers at the Local 1361 union issued a vote of no confidence. He placed third on last year’s fire chief exam.
Eisenhardt received accolades from Zilka and councilmen Larry Meiners and John Shondel.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Chief Eisenhardt,” Zilka said. “The rapport at the fire department has improved.”
Shondel said Eisenhardt’s first year was not unlike OSU’s head coach.
“You had a first year like Urban Meyer,” Shondel said. “You’re 12 and 0.”
Huerner said Eisenhardt’s voluntary demotion was not a total surprise.
“We’ve had private discussions” Huerner said, about Eisenhardt possibly leaving. “But I didn’t know until recently it was definite.”
If Huerner receives approval from both Avon Lake City Council and the Civil Service committee, he said he intend to “keep the flow” of the department before deciding if changes are need. Huerner previously functioned as acting fire chief when Morris was out of town in the past.