Brown is 2nd of 3 generations in fire service

Tim Brown, the son of a firefighter, became a fire department cadet at age 13.

He progressed to become a volunteer firefighter then a full-time firefighter in Ohio, then after spending some time as a police officer, Brown returned to fire service during April 1988 when he joined Richmond Fire Department.

“You strive to do the best you can and climb the ladder the highest you can,” Brown said. “I worked my way up the ranks.”

Brown, who has served as a battalion chief, assistant chief and interim chief, reached the top rung of his department’s ladder Feb. 28 when Mayor Dave Snow administered his oath after naming Brown RFD’s chief, succeeding Jerry Purcell.

“I find it challenging,” Brown said of the chief’s role. “I love being a firefighter, and I love the fire department.”

Brown’s father, Richard Brown, retired as the driver of Engine 15 in Dayton, Ohio, so he’s really been part of the fire service his entire life. He plans to make sure he’s still involved at fire scenes, too.

“I don’t want to forget where I came from,” Brown said. “I love the job.”

During Brown’s RFD career, he has been honored with the Trailblazer Award for Outstanding service, as Firefighter of the Year and as Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. He also has been a baseball and soccer coach and Boy Scout leader, according to a city news release.

“Chief Tim Brown has consistently displayed exceptional service in our fire department and has spent over 30 years preparing himself to assume this role,” Snow said in the release. “After an extensive interview and search process, Chief Tim Brown has shown himself fully prepared to bolster our fire department and secure its future for the next generation of first responders.”

Brown said his new role will involve continuing and wrapping up projects already begun. The department has developed its EMS service, re-imagined its training center, began remodeling firehouses and executed equipment replacement plans. There’s ongoing work at the training center, which is a regional training hub. Also, a previous order for a new aerial engine has fallen through, requiring a new plan for that engine and continuing the replacement schedule.

Brown said that those other projects diverted attention from communication with members. He hopes to provide consistent communication and improve officer development with outside training. Brown wants the members to know what’s going on and the officers to feel comfortable making the split-second decisions they need to make.

He feels prepared for his new role after his time as Purcell’s assistant chief and more than about two months as interim chief.

“It’s not that big of a transition, because I have been involved in everything,” Brown said. “Now, it’s me putting together the priorities, setting goals and getting things done.”

Brown takes over while his members do not have a contract with the city. Richmond Common Council recently rejected a fact-finding panel’s contract recommendations, sending the negotiators back to the panel.

“Definitely, we need to get a contract wrapped up, so we can move on and get morale back up,” Brown said.

When Brown took his oath, Snow also administered Joe Buckler his oath as assistant chief. Chuck Powell fills the vacant battalion chief’s position.

Mayor Dave Snow signs paperwork after administering oaths to Richmond Fire Department Assistant Chief Joe Buckler (left) and Chief Tim Brown.

Brown selected Buckler, who has been Boston’s fire chief since 2007, as assistant chief.

“Joe and I have talked a lot, and we think a lot alike,” Brown said. “I can put trust in Joe.”

Powell tested highest to top RFD’s list for promotion to battalion chief.

“Chuck’s very conscientious, very responsible and very trustworthy, and he’s got good family values and a good family background,” Brown said of Powell, who has two children.

Brown and his wife, Kay, have six children and 11 grandchildren, with two more grandchildren expected in June. The youngest of the six children, Josh, took his RFD oath Oct. 3 and represents the third Brown generation in fire service.

The new chief couldn’t be prouder.

“I’m excited for this new chapter in my life, and I’m excited for the department with the team I have helping me,” Brown said.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 8 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.