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Chief Brian Byrd Takes the Reins of the Fire and Rescue Department

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Battalion Chief Brian Byrd and his family were on the verge of announcing his retirement at the end of the year and move to Louisiana when he got the call from Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz asking the 31-year Toledo Fire Department veteran to postpone those plans, stay in Toledo a little longer and lead the department he has devoted his adult life to.

“I’m blessed to be handed the reins to a fire department that is the best in the country in my opinion,” said Toledo Fire and Rescue Department Chief Byrd after he was sworn into his new job on Friday August 3 in the One Government Center City Council Chambers before an overflow and raucous audience of Safety Department employees, family members, city employees and department friends. Frequent standing ovations punctuated the ceremony as those in the room celebrated the transition.

The mayor opened the ceremony by announcing that “this is a celebration of two gentlemen.” The outgoing Chief Louis Santiago, observed Kapszukiewicz, had joined the fire department when he was only 21 years old and “has known nothing in his adult life other then serving the citizens as a firefighter.”

“I have learned lessons from you I will carry the rest of my life,” said the mayor of his relationship with the outgoing chief and due to Santiago’s conscientiousness “we have had the most professional transition I could have imagined,” added Kapszukiewicz.

As for the incoming chief, “I have always been impressed by his skills, demeanor and community involvement. He will lead the department into the future with a spirit of innovation, fairness, vision and energy,” said the mayor.

In his parting words for his successor, Chief Santiago said: “You have a department that is full of talented and dedicated people, just allow that talent to be on full display every day and I think you will be OK.”

The incoming chief joined the department in 1988 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1992. In that position he earned certification as a nationally-registered EMT-paramedic from the Northwest Ohio Paramedic Training Program. He was promoted to captain in 1997 and battalion chief in 2000.

He served as battalion chief for seven years before being promoted to deputy chief, a position he filled for nine years before voluntarily taking a demotion back to battalion chief – to be on the line.

A Toledo native, Byrd is a graduate of St. John’s Jesuit and attended Penn State, the University of Toledo, Owens Community College and the National Fire Academy.

“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” said the newly-minted chief quoting Muhammad Ali in his remarks after being sworn in. He promised to pay the rent and thanked his family – wife Pamela, sons Brian and Brady – his colleagues and the public for their support.

“I accept the responsibility to lead this department.”


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:12 -0700.

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