Ohio man is named new Cape fire chief

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

After 18 months without an official chief, the Cape Girardeau Fire Department will have a new leader in Richard Ennis, city officials said Monday.

Ennis, 40, will begin duties March 8 at an annual salary of $67,500. He has served as fire chief of Perkins Township in Sandusky, Ohio, for the last seven and a half years. He is a third-generation fire chief with 22 years of experience in the fire and emergency medical service field.

He fills a position left vacant by Mike Lackman, who resigned in August 2002. Assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider has served as the interim fire chief during the extended vacancy.

"The city has had several fire chiefs in the last few years, and I am looking forward to setting some stability," Ennis said. "My main concern is the delivery of quality services in the community."

Initially, he wants to examine the department's financial and equipment needs before setting goals, he said. A sales-tax proposal for fire service failed in 2002 and may return to August's ballot. Ennis said he wants voters to have all the facts before being asked for extra funds.

"My approach is to assess the needs of the department and the costs associated with those needs," he said. "I think the taxpayer has a right to have the needs justified to them."

After a weekend visit to Cape Girardeau, Ennis left with a good impression of the city and its firefighting staff. "There is tremendous potential," he said. "After visiting with some of the officers, my enthusiasm for taking the job increased."

The Perkins Township Fire Department is a 40-member agency that delivers fire protection, emergency medical service and emergency management services.

"We are very pleased with chief Ennis' qualifications and think he will make an excellent leader for our fire department," said city manager Doug Leslie. "He was selected from 38 candidates for this position."

Ennis has an associate degree in fire science technology/fire administration from Wright State University and has completed the executive officers program from the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.

"I'm looking forward to the challenges of a new job," Ennis said. "I'm leaving a good situation, but the opportunities in Cape Girardeau were very intriguing. My family and I were impressed that the city staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and we look forward to making Cape Girardeau our home."

Ennis' wife, Susan, and their three children will remain in Perkins through June to finish the school year, she said. The couple have two daughters, Kelly, 12, and Amy, 10, and a son, Eric, 14.

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