Medina fire chief announces he will retire in summer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Todd Zinkievich has led department since 2003

Photos by Tom Rivers – Todd Zinkievich is pictured outside the Medina Fire Department in this file photo from March 2013. Under his leadership, the department replaced Rural Metro as the primary ambulance provider in western Orleans County in July 2007. The department responded to nearly 3,000 calls in 2014, its busiest ever.

MEDINA – Todd Zinkievich has led the Medina Fire Department through a momentous time in its history, particularly with the Fire Department replacing Rural Metro in July 2007 as primary ambulance provider in western Orleans County.

The Department grew from six full-time firefighters to 13 now, plus two temporary full-time positions and about 20 call men. The call volume has jumped from about 300 a year a decade ago to 2,986 in 2014, the most ever in the Fire Department’s history.

The call volume continues to grow at a rate of about 200 per year since the ambulance switch. Zinkievich is proud of the level of service from the department, but he told the Village Board the department needs a new leader. He intends to retire this summer with his last on July 3, although he said the last official day will likely be later due to comp time.

“The last couple of years have been very, very stressful on me,” Zinkievich told the Village Board tonight. “I’ve tried to disguise how much this whole dissolution has affected me.”

Village residents last Tuesday voted to reject dissolution by a 949-527 vote. But Zinkievich said the uncertainty with the issue, whether the village government and Fire Department would dissolve, took a toll on him and other village employees.

“Quite honestly I’ve lost my vision for the department,” he said. “We didn’t know which direction we were going in.”

Zinkievich made the annoucement today because he wanted to give the Village Board plenty of notice about his retirement to allow for a smooth transition to a new chief.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier told Zinkievich he should be proud of his record of service to the Fire Department and community.

“These guys made my badge shine,” Zinkievich responded. “We’ve built this into one of the best fire departments in the state and I feel in the country.”

Medina Fire Chief Todd Zinkievich takes a short breather while fighting a fire on Jan. 6 at a Ridgeway farm.

Other Village Board members praised Zinkievich for his effort, especially for his leadership as the department expanded its commitment to the community with the ambulance service.

Zinkievich joins the firefighters on many of the calls. He is an intermediate EMT.

“Because we’re such a small department I have to run on a lot of the calls,” Zinkievich told Orleans Hub in a March 2013 interview. “I do, too, because I’ve always been a firm believer that we should spread the workload amongst all of our employees. When you take one person, myself, out of that equation of 13, you’re taking 7.3 percent of your workforce away from it. These guys are working hard and they’re working hard for us, so I’m going to work hard alongside them. I go on my fair amount of ambulance calls. I may be driving the ambulance or in back as a medic.”

Zinkievich grew up in a firefighting family. He first joined the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company before joining Medina in 1994.

“I love helping people,” he told Orleans Hub in a previous interview. “I love making a difference in somebody’s life. Generally when we’re called somebody is in trouble. They’re either hurt or something is on fire. It’s up to us to get there, mitigate it and offer whatever assistance we can.”