Hamilton Fire Dept. has new chief, and 9 others got promoted

Department now has first female fire lieutenant.

New leadership is at helm at the Hamilton Fire Dept., with official promotions last month from the chief role to apparatus driver.

Hamilton native Thomas Eickelberger was officially sworn in as chief in August and nine others were promoted. Eickelberger served as acting chief this summer after the retirement of Chief Mark Mercer in June.

Eickelberger, a 2000 Badin High School grad, is a third generation firefighter, with his grandfather Robert and father Tom also serving a Hamilton firefighters. The 41-year-old said he always wanted to follow suit and become a firefighter, but being chief was not his aspiration.

“It was a hard decision, “ Eickelberger said. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2011, to captain in 2015 and to deputy chief in 2018.

“That’s when I got off the truck,” he said. “It still doesn’t feel good (not actually fighting fires). I figured I would work on a truck for my career. But things just kind of worked out the way they did. ”

The department now has 105 personnel, and with the recent promotions, the department has changed quite a bit.

“There’s been a lot of leadership changes. A lot of great people moving up into higher positions,” Eickelberger said.

That includes the first female fire lieutenant, Heather Garcia. The department has five female members.

Others promoted are: Jary Wirtz to assistant chief, Ben Adams to deputy chief, Dave Holzberger to deputy chief, Mark Powers to captain, Jason Callihan to captain, Ben Reese to lieutenant, Tony Manfredi to lieutenant and Kristen Gabbard to apparatus driver.

Eickelberger said the growth of the city, both current and planned, is something to keep an eye on as far as continuing to provide “excellent services.”

But for now he will be evaluating the department for the remainder of the year and work with the command staff to make some positive changes in 2024.

Eickelberger and his wife Jennifer have three daughters, Maggie, Wrenlie and June.

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