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Calderone answers one last call

4/18/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

Green fire chief eases into retirement

Former Green Fire Chief Robert Calderone
Photo courtesy of Robert Calderone
GREEN — Responding to emergency situations became a way of life for Robert “Bob” Calderone, so ceasing to answer the call in Green has not been easy for the faithful public servant who became familiar with fire station operations at an early age.

Effective March 31, the 59-year-old safety forces professional retired from his role as Green Fire Department chief after 40 years of service to the community.

“It has been a great ride, and I have enjoyed all of it,” he said.

Calderone admits he is not the kind of person who can sit at home, so his first few weeks of retirement have been an adjustment.

“Last week, it was strange getting up and not having anywhere to particularly go,” he said. “I plan to still do something in public safety but do not know what yet.”

He said the fire department in Green always will be dear to him.

“I have been around it my whole life — for the last 59 years,” he explained. “We are family.”

Calderone officially joined the Green Township Fire Department — now the dity of Green Fire Department — as a part-time firefighter in 1973 but already was well acquainted with the station.

As a young child, his Saturdays were spent observing his father, Mickele “Mike” Calderone, fine-tune the fire trucks. Calderone said his dad became chief of the Green Township Fire Department in the late 1960s, so he quickly became accustomed to watching his father answer fire calls at all hours of the day and night, even on holidays. At the time, Calderone’s mother even answered the emergency calls inside their home, dispatching the volunteer firemen over the telephone.

When Calderone turned 18 in 1972, he said he fully expected to be sent to fight in the Vietnam War, but the draft was halted before he got the call to go.

He explained a person had to be 21 to join the Fire Department prior, but in 1973 the rule was changed, so he could be brought aboard, along with retired firefighter and paramedic Dave France, who also is the Ward 2 Green City Councilman.

In 1974, Calderone began a lengthy career with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which he continues today on a part-time basis. He started out as a dispatcher with the Sheriff’s Office before spending nine years as a full-time deputy. At the time, he continued to work part-time with the Fire Department, as well.

Calderone explained he began working full-time with the Fire Department in 1981, changing his status with the Sheriff’s Office to part-time. In 1981, the Fire Department added paramedic service and hired Calderone full-time, he said. France and Calderone’s brother, David, also were hired full-time that year. In 1986, he continued to climb the ladder, becoming the assistant fire chief. Calderone then succeeded his father as chief in 1996 through the Civil Service Exam.

“Under [Bob] Calderone’s leadership, Green Fire has evolved from its days as a fire department for the township to a division that provides top-quality service to our 25,000 residents,” Mayor Dick Norton has said. “Bob’s leadership will be missed.”

Calderone credits the success of the department to everyone involved, from the staff to City Council, however. He added the mayor especially has been great to partner with.

“The Fire Department is what it is because of everybody. It has been a collaborative effort, and I am proud to have been a part of it,” he said.

Calderone feels fortunate to have had such a rewarding career, helping people both with the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office.

“I am humbled by the emails of appreciation I have received,” he said.

It is not easy for Calderone to no longer serve as chief, but he is confident the department will have continued success.

“It sure is different,” he said. “I already miss the people. I have worked with some of them for 25 to 30 years.”

A new chief will be selected by the mayor from the candidates who take the Civil Service Exam, city officials have reported.

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