Hudson -- Fire Chief Robert Carter plans to retire from the city fire department May 15.

Carter, 58, said it was a long-term decision and he looks forward to spending more time with his family and enjoying the outdoors.

As of April 15, the city manager had not appointed an interim fire chief.

"Bob has made a tremendous impact during his time in Hudson," said City Manager Anthony Bales. "His leadership both inside the Hudson Fire Department and outside in the community has been exemplary."

In addition to his duties as fire chief, Bob also has been actively involved with the County Fire Chiefs Association, where he is on the Board of Directors, as well as with the Summit County Emergency Management Agency, where he serves on the Emergency Management Executive Committee.

He also has been active in Rotary's Leadership Hudson, a nine-month program that introduces participants to Hudson City, business and community leaders with the goal that at the program's conclusion, participants will serve Hudson in future leadership positions.

Carter said his wife, Tracee Patterson, and his sons, Robert, 10, and Timmy, 8, are excited about his retirement.

"We'll do some camping, canoeing and outdoors stuff," Carter said. "Timmy loves bicycle riding, and we'll do that when the weather allows."

Although Carter has no specific post retirement plans, he will continue with Leadership Hudson and do some work in public safety in the future.

"Leadership Hudson has been a hobby of mine, and I will have more time for it," Carter said.

Carter became Hudson's first full-time fire chief in July 2000. Prior to that, he was a lieutenant with the Mentor Fire Department, beginning part-time in 1977 and full-time in 1985.

As chief, Carter leads the city's team of volunteer firefighters, which numbers 42 now.

"We've seen an increase in the volunteer ranks," Carter said. "We're very community oriented. We turn out a large number of firefighters, more than surrounding communities."

During the day, at least 12 volunteers report and at night or on weekends it can be 20 to 24. Although response time may be a little longer because volunteers must report to the station first, there is a cost benefit to the community with 40 percent less expense to comparable communities for their fire departments, Carter said.

"We have great support from the city services," Carter said. "The police, fire and EMS [Emergency Medical Services] work as a team more than other cities."

Carter has been responsible for expanding and upgrading the department's technology and training, as well as taking a leadership role in creating and executing the emergency operations plan during several critical incidents, including the floods in 2003 and a trench collapse, according to city officials.

"You get to be involved in people's lives in points of crisis for them and sometimes, but not all the time, you can make a difference," Carter said about his job. "The opportunity to make a difference is what it's all about."

After critical incidents like the flood when two lives were lost, firefighters attend a critical incident stress management meeting to share feelings and talk about what happened.

"In an emergency situation, you see things and get involved with things outside normal people's lives," Carter said. "The goal it to keep the person whole and return to work."

Carter said when he took the job as fire chief, he put roots down in Hudson and plans to stay and be active in the community.

"It has been my privilege to work with the many dedicated members in the Hudson Fire Department," Carter said. "It also has been an honor to work with the many Hudson organizations, particularly the Hudson Schools."


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