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Community News

New chief outlines ambitions for Green Fire

12/12/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

Jeffrey Funai
Photo courtesy of city of Green

GREEN — Jeffrey Funai recently reached his longtime goal of achieving the position of fire chief, and now is focused on several objectives he has for the Green Fire Division.

On Nov. 22, Mayor Dick Norton selected Funai for the role he had been striving to obtain for years.

“I realized early on, when I began with the fire service, that it appealed to me to move up the ranks,” Funai said.

The 1987 Green High School graduate began his tenure with the Green Fire Division in 1995 and was promoted to a captain in 2011.

He said serving Green always was his “target.”

Funai earned a bachelor of science degree in management and a master’s degree in business administration from Malone University and served as a part-time firefighter/EMT and dispatcher for Coventry Township prior to beginning his career in Green.

When he learned of an opening with the fire department in Green, Funai said he jumped at the opportunity.

While his father was serving as part-time clerk for Green Township, Funai fell in love with the idea of being a fireman at the age of 8.

“I was in awe of the Steese Road station, the chief, the whole thing,” he explained. “I knew after I graduated college, I wanted to come back to the station I spent many Saturdays sitting and observing. The hook got set back then.”

Funai said he is thrilled to be holding his “dream job” now.

“It is an attractive position, and I am very lucky,” he said. “I am thankful for what we have here. Not every city enjoys the same level of responsible city management and a strong fiscal environment.”

Funai wants the community to know he is dedicated to the continuation of high-quality service residents have come to expect.

He notes he is not trying to replace a “legend” but is striving to keep Green “proud” of the city’s fire division.

Funai trained and worked under former chief Bob Calderone, who began as chief in 1996.

Calderone replaced his father, Mickele “Mike” Calderone.

Thus, Funai is the first chief in Green, since 1980, not to have the last name Calderone.

“The bar has been set very high, but everything is in place to continue to reach that bar,” he said. “There are good times ahead of us.”

Funai said he hopes to identify opportunities for the city to leverage its consolidated dispatch center, marketing the quality service it could provide municipalities in Summit County and Ohio. He explained dispatching services are becoming more regionalized, and Green needs to move its center into the future while continuing the strong level of service it provides.

Funai said he also is focused on preparing the next generation of firefighter/EMT workers in the city, as many of the top command staff employees will be retiring in the next few years.

“I am working on putting plans in place so there is no dip in the level of service we provide,” he explained.

In addition, he wishes to strengthen accountability and communications between Green and its southern Summit County neighbors so it more efficiently can gather as one team in the event of a serious incident. He explained the communities work well together, but he believes resources can be managed better as one unit in a crisis.

Funai is very active in the county and state, serving as a representative of a number of local, Summit County and Ohio committees. For the county, he serves on the South Summit Incident Management Assistance Team Executive Committee; the Summit County Communications Committee; and the EMS Committee and Training and Education Subcommittee of the Summit County Domestic Preparedness Task Force, he said. At the state level, he serves on the Specialty Care Subcommittee of the Ohio State EMS Board; is a member of the State of Ohio Incident Management Team; and provides training around the state in incident command, he said.

The Green resident is continuing his education in the Executive Fire Officer Program with the National Fire Academy of Emmitsburg, Md.

Funai resides in Green with his wife, Lori, and two children, Taylor, 11, and Drew, 7.

A swearing-in ceremony will be Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd.

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