January 18, 2012 - Three Oxford firefighters moved up in the ranks last week by being promoted as the department's first-ever full-time sergeants.
Fire Capt. Ron Jahlas (left) pins sergeant stripes on the collar of Steve Giroux. (click for larger version)
Steve Giroux, Benjamin (B.J.) Stapp and Blair Lockwood now proudly wear sergeant's stripes on their collars and gold badges on their chests to denote their new status as officers.
During a special promotion ceremony held during the Jan. 11 township board meeting, Fire Chief Pete Scholz called these promotions a "chance for the department to grow" and "a good way to enhance the future."
"It's new, young blood coming into the department as officers," he said.
Stapp and Lockwood joined the department as full-time (or career) firefighters in November 2006. Giroux, who was raised in Oxford, started out as a paid-on-call firefighter in September 2001 and was hired as a full-timer in December 2006.
Scholz described all three men as "enthusiastic . . . eager to learn and move forward . . . and very professional."
Oxford Fire Sgt. Benjamin (B.J.) Stapp poses with his family, which includes wife Nicole, son Hayden, 5, and daughter Ella, 2. (click for larger version)
These three sergeant positions were created as part of the firefighters union contract approved in November 2010.
"We've had sergeants over the years on the paid-on-call side," Scholz said. "These are the first of the full-time sergeants."
The union contract calls them "shift sergeants" and each of them will earn $20.82 per hour or $60,627 annually.
In order to become a sergeant, Giroux, Stapp and Lockwood underwent a thorough and unbiased promotion process that included a written test and an oral interview conducted by officers from Oxford and surrounding fire departments.
Seven firefighters tested for the three sergeant positions, according to Scholz.
Once they've each gotten a year's worth of experience under their belts as sergeants, all three officers will be eligible for promotion to a captain's position that's been open for close to two years, according to Scholz.
"(As) part of our qualifications to be a captain, you have to have had prior officer experience for a minimum of at least one year," the chief explained. "Right now, none of the full-time staff on the department have had officer experience."
"I couldn't see promoting someone to that (captain's) position with no prior officer experience at all," Scholz told this reporter. "In the absence of the chief and the assistant chief, the shift captain is the next person that's in charge of things and runs the department."
Once either Stapp, Lockwood or Giroux gets promoted to captain, the department will look inward to promote someone to the open sergeant's position using the same standardized process.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.