Fire Chief Andy Frost III set to retire

Staff photo / Dan Pompili
Austintown Fire Chief Andy Frost III, center, holds a proclamation lauding his career, signed by township trustees. Frost is surrounded by family and some township colleagues at Monday’s meeting, including, from left, trustee Bruce Shepas, trustee Robert Santos, Frost’s son Derek with daughter-in-law Laura holding granddaughter Izzy, Frost, his wife Eileen and daughter Lauren, trustee Monica Deavers and Fiscal Officer Laurie Wolfe.

AUSTINTOWN — Township trustees conducted regular business Monday evening, but not before conducting the irregular business of bidding a formal farewell to one of Austintown’s longest-serving leaders.

Fire Chief Andy Frost III announced that he will retire on July 24, ending a nearly 40-year career, all of it in service to Austintown.

“I’m just very grateful for everything Austintown has given me,” said Frost, who was visibly emotional after listening to thanks and praise from trustees and others in attendance at the meeting.

Trustee Robert Santos read and presented to Frost a proclamation signed by the board, honoring his service to the community as both a firefighter and chief.

Santos spoke first.

“This individual has lived, slept, and breathed Austintown, the community and its residents, and there is not a time that I have called that he has not picked up,” Santos said. “He’s done far more than what anyone would think actually needs to get done as a fire chief. You are such an honorable person and if there was some way to force you to stay, I would do that.”

Trustee Monica Deavers said Frost stopped into her restaurant the day before she declared her candidacy for the office, and told her he looked forward to working with her. She lamented that their working relationship was at an end.

“What are you doing to me?” she asked. “I want to congratulate you first, on the many years of dedication and service and leadership. They will have a lasting impact on our community. We are incredibly grateful that we’ve had you for as long as we did, and you deserve this retirement and I hope you enjoy it.”

Trustee Bruce Shepas expressed his gratitude and also his regret that Frost is leaving and that two of the men sitting next to him — police Chief Robert Gavalier and Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli — are expected to retire soon as well.

“When I got elected…you have all these good intentions, and you want to make all these changes and help out the community and the taxpayer, but all that doesn’t happen without department heads like yourselves,” he said.

Fiscal officer Laurie Wolfe said she has worked with Frost for more than half of her life, having started in 1992, shortly before he joined the department full-time.

“He worked his way up, he followed in his father’s footsteps to some degree, but he also went above and beyond,” she said. “Just a great man and I’m glad to call you my friend.”

Administrator Mark D’Apolito said Frost was the steady hand on everyone’s shoulder during the trying days at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But you always knew how to navigate that and you helped put Austintown ahead of a lot of other communities,” he said. “You’ve been a great coworker and mentor throughout my career. I’m happy for you, but I’m sad to see you go.”

Former Trustee Jim Davis also spoke, and praised Frost for his ability to save the township millions of dollars during his tenure by securing state and federal grants to purchase trucks, equipment and supplies.

Davis was elected when Frost’s father was still the chief, and remembered that the younger Frost was not sure he wanted to take the job because he was content as assistant chief to work alongside his fellow firefighters.

“The legacy your family has left in this community is something that will never ever be topped, those are shoes that just can’t be filled,” he said. “This community should be forever grateful for what you have done and for what your father has done.”

Gavalier, speaking earlier, made similar comments, noting how easy it was to work with both Frosts, and how grateful he was for the relationship police and fire had under both men’s leadership.

Crivelli and Parks Department Supervisor Todd Shaffer both shared memories of how Frost was with them when they both suffered major health episodes. Crivelli told the audience how Frost showed up at 2:30 a.m. to sit with him all night in the ER. Shaffer remembered how Frost was one of the first into his house when he suffered a stroke, and spoke to his sister on the phone to assure her that he and the fire department’s paramedics would be with Shaffer until the doctors at the hospital took over his care.

Assistant Chief David Schertzer will take over as interim chief on July 25, and Frost said Schertzer has his endorsement to take the job permanently.

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