Council approves hiring of new Hudson fire chief

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- The new fire chief in Hudson picks up the torch of a family history of firefighters.

Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Varnes has been promoted to chief and will replace Chief Robert Carter when Carter retires May 15.

Varnes is a life-long Hudson resident and fifth generation firefighter. His father, Bill Varnes, was assistant fire chief for the Hudson Fire Department for 42 years, and his great grandfather was Hudson fire chief from 1916-1919 and 1928 -1932.

Varnes said public service and serving in the fire department has been a big part of his life.

"My biggest mentor was my dad, and it's something I've wanted to do my entire life," Varnes said.

City Manager Anthony Bales recommended Varnes as the new fire chief on May 7. Council members unanimously approved his appointment in a special meeting before the scheduled workshop meeting.

"Jerry has done an outstanding job as assistant fire chief, and I am confident he will continue to lead the department as chief," Bales said.

The city did not have an external search for chief and has not decided if the assistant fire chief position will be filled, according to Jody Roberts, communications manager.

The current salary for Varnes is $87,485 and his new salary has not yet been determined, Roberts said.

Varnes joined the Hudson Fire Department in 1978, was promoted to lieutenant in 1992 and became assistant fire chief in 2002. Previously, Varnes was a member of Hudson EMS from 1980 through 1999 and was chief medic from 1996 through 1999. He was a fire medic with the Twinsburg Fire Department for 15 years.

Varnes was owner and operator of Hudson Appliance for 27 years, which he sold when he became assistant fire chief. He has been married to his wife, Debbie, since 1986 and has three children, Dan, 22, Jessie, 20, and Jake, 15.

Varnes said he has looked forward to the opportunity to be chief and prepared by obtaining the education and training he would need to "take the reins if the day came."

He doesn't anticipate any big changes and likes to obtain input from others before making a decision.

"I'm an open-book kind of guy, and I want to ease into the position," Varnes said. "We have an excellent system going on, and we're fortunate our department has been well managed."

Carter did not respond for comments.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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