Albion hires first part-time chief

Article by Matt Getts of KPC Media

‘Exemplary’ Fort Wayne Fire Department captain picked

ALBION — The Albion Town Council hired the town’s first ever part-time fire chief at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

The council voted 4-0 to go with the unanimous recommendation of its special hiring committee to hire Fort Wayne Fire Department Capt. Bob Amber to fill the post. Amber’s first day will be Monday.

Amber, will be paid $23.21 per hour, with a maximum of 29 hours worked per week. That pay level equates to approximately $35,000 per year. As a part-time employee, Amber will not be eligible for the town’s health insurance or retirement benefits.

The part-time fire chief’s salary has been set aside by the council from the public safety tax, which it has been collecting for more than a year now.

Amber, 50, is a 1986 graduate of Churubusco High School. He lives in Smith Township, just across the Noble-Whitley line.

He will retain his full-time employment with the Fort Wayne Fire Department, where he currently leads an eight-man crew at Station 15. He has been with the Fort Wayne department for 31 years. Amber has held a variety of positions with the Fort Wayne department, including serving as public information officer.

“He is a valued member,” Fort Wayne Fire Department Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor said Wednesday. “He has always been exemplary in his service.”

Amber works a 24-hours on/48-hours off schedule. He is a certified instructor and has certifications in hazardous materials and trench rescue.

Amber was a volunteer with the Smith Township Fire Department, and he’s eager to get started with Albion’s volunteer department.

“They’ve got a great work force,” Amber said. “They’re go-getters. And they’re doing it for nothing.”

The hiring committee that recommended Amber consisted of Councilman Max Weber, Councilwoman Chris Magnuson, Town Manager Stefen Wynn, current Fire Chief Brad Rollins and current Assistant Chief John Urso.

The committee interviewed five candidates, asking the same questions of each. All of the committee members then scored the answers. Amber was the top choice unanimously, Weber and Magnuson said.

Weber motioned to go with the committee’s recommendation at Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Don Shultz provided the second and Magnuson and newly-elected council president Vicki Jellison also voted in favor of Amber’s hiring.

Councilman John Morr was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Amber’s administrative skill was a huge factor in the decision, Wynn said. The volunteer department had requested a part-time chief to fill administrative duties, as well as cover daytime weekday shifts when it it hardest to get quick responses.

Amber said he knows bringing in an outsider can make for a difficult transition.

“I understand that,” Amber said. “I know there are guys who aren’t happy. I want them to give me a chance. I just want a chance to work with them.”

Amber isn’t exactly a stranger to the area. His brother-in-law and sister-in-law own Albion Village Foods. His daughter, Taylor Amber, is a fourth-grade teacher at Wolf Lake Elementary School.

Amber has served as a non-paid assistant softball coach at Central Noble.

Being around Albion made him appreciate what the town has to offer.

“I fell in love with the town,” Amber said.