The Press Newspaper
Chief Michael Wolever, an East Toledo resident, has announced he will retire from the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department after 33 years of service as a firefighter and four years as chief.
Chief Wolever, who resides on Nevada Street, joined the department in August 1978. He was promoted to lieutenant in June 1982, captain in June 1984, battalion chief in October 1988 and served as deputy chief under then-chief Michael P. Bell, now mayor, beginning in 2002. When then-Chief Bell retired in 2007, Wolever stepped up to lead the department.
“He’s always been very professional,” District 3 councilman Mike Craig said. “I’ve never had to question any information that he has given us. He’s always been up front and he’s a nice guy — very straight forward. We’ll miss him. He is a great guy.”
Craig said Chief Wolever reassured him about the location a new fire station to be constructed on a vacant two-and-a-half acre city-owned lot at the corner at Oak and Fassett streets. Some funding for the station came from the federal government, which needed a shovel-ready site, Craig said.
“I had questions about building the new fire station where it is, and after talking with the chief, he answered every question. I had questions about response time, and he showed a study where response times where for much of the district it was cut down by having the station there.”
District 3 city council candidate Daniel J. Angel wrote in an e-mail to The Press, “I would like to express gratitude to retiring Fire Chief Michael Wolever. His 33 years of service are filled with tremendous milestones of service to our community.
“I feel Chief Wolever is a perfect representation of Toledo’s resource of labor, how he worked hard and came through the ranks via hard work and dedication. Thank you, Chief Wolever, for your service and your example of Toledo’s heart as a hard working community.”
Chief Wolever additionally serves as vice-chair for the Ohio Homeland Security Advisory Committee and has served as chairman of the State of Ohio Medical Technical Advisory Committee, co-chair of the City of Toledo Urban Area Security Initiative, and co-chair of the Metropolitan Medical Response Team.
“As fire chief and mayor, I have counted on Mike Wolever to be a leader in the fire department for 20 years,” said Mayor Bell. “I appreciate his service and his dedication to Toledo Fire and Rescue and to the residents of the city and the region. The knowledge and experience he has contributed to the department have helped to make us one of the best in the nation.”
Also during Chief Wolever’s tenure, two major policy initiatives were accomplished, said a city press release. The long-term federal consent decree issued in the Brown v. Winkle case was dismissed allowing the department to move forward with more modern and widely accepted recruiting practices.
The department also continued a move toward regional safety cooperation by merging fire and rescue services with the Village of Ottawa Hills.
As Wolever departs, Luis Santiago will lead the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department. Santiago has served as assistant chief since December 2007. He joined the department in 1984.
“I have every confidence in Lou’s ability to lead this department into the future,” said Mayor Bell. “He has proven himself to be a valuable leader among Toledo’s firefighters and a strategic incident response commander. I have no doubt that Toledo can continue to depend on a competent and professional fire department under his leadership.”
Wolever’s last day of service will be July 1. Santiago will serve as acting chief until a permanent appointment is made.
“I’m sure Chief Santiago will do an excellent job,” Craig said.
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