Passion marks Jackson as fit for new fire inspector
by Courtney Warren
Apr 10, 2014 | 2464 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greg Jackson was recently named Cleveland's new Fire Inspector and for the next two months Gene Bishop will prepare him for the job.
Greg Jackson was recently named Cleveland's new Fire Inspector and for the next two months Gene Bishop will prepare him for the job.
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Greg Jackson has been named Cleveland’s new Fire Inspector and he began work this week as Gene Bishop prepares to retire in June.

Jackson, a native of Cleveland, has been involved with the Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department over 19 years.

Jackson's father became a firefighter when Jackson was seven years old and he met Bishop when he was a child.

"The first time I met Gene I was wearing a Cub Scouts uniform and we were touring the number 2 fire station. He was the new fire inspector and that was 1979 because I was a Cub Scout; little bitty fella," he said and laughed.

Since then, Jackson has grown up and taken over his father's business, Lance’s Automotive; been married to his wife Sandi for 22 years; and had three children, Katherine who will attend DSU in the fall, and Molly and Owen who both attend Cleveland High School.

Jackson's favorite thing to talk about is the fire department and upon entering Bishop's office, it's obvious this is a passion the two share.

After having worked and owned Lance's Automotive for so many years, Jackson said the process of closing the shop and moving to fire inspector is a very emotional one.

"He's a second generation and I'm a second generation. I've got 36 years here and he's got right at 20 years plus his dad. He's coming into something that I'm leaving and both of us have a lot of passion," Bishop said about their mutual love for fire fighting.

"I enjoy talking about the fire department. I think that anyone that knows me knows if I'm passionate about something you're probably going to hear about it. I look forward to being the face of the fire department and showing how we're progressing and taking it to the next level. This department has continuously grown over the years and it's tremendous to watch how it goes to the next level. You keep thinking 'how can it keep growing' and one of the main reasons is sitting right there," said Jackson as he motioned to Bishop.

Bishop got quiet when asked what he would miss the most about the fire department and then with a slow smile said, "The fellowship, the citizens of Cleveland. I've had my finger on the heartbeat of the fire department for 36 years and I've known what's going on in the community with new projects in the city itself and private businesses. The brotherhood in the fire department — that's what I'm going to miss."

Bishop also said he believes Jackson's passion is one of the reasons that makes him a good fit for the position.

"I think it's his passion. It's more than just telling about the fire department; it's the codes and zoning and things he'll be a part of to help the community be a safe community in the years to come. It's all about making you and your family as safe as we can and it's a team effort," Bishop said.

Jackson added that the pressure is on knowing he has Bishop's shoes to fill.

"It puts on a lot more pressure. I'm coming into a position after a guy who's very well respected. He's looked up to in the community and it's a little scary but it's also a great challenge. I feel like I did when I took over my dad's business. My dad built a name in Cleveland; he started from nothing and built it into what it was and then I had to either sustain it or take it to the next level and that's what Gene did. There was no fire inspector before Gene," said Jackson.

While there was technically a fire inspector position, Bishop said it was nowhere near what it is now.

"(The former inspector) handed me an envelope and said here it is, and this is what we have now. I didn't have a role model and it's overwhelming to me to think I've got to try to explain to Greg what I do and what I've learned and gleaned over 36 years in two months. He'll have at least a role model and someone where rather than learning every bit of it on his own," said Bishop.

Bishop added he knows Cleveland's ratings will stay because of Jackson's passion.

"His passion is not going to allow anything to happen to our ratings. The city leadership and the leadership in the fire department as well as his passion and experience will allow us to be just fine," he said.

Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said, "We are very excited about Greg being the fire inspector. He's got some big shoes to fill. He's been a good fireman for many years and we're excited a strong legacy of having great fire inspectors will continue on."

Jackson’s hiring was approved at the April board meeting in executive session and Bishop said they wanted to tell the volunteers first before making the announcement.

For a person to qualify for fire inspector they must have a college degree and at least 5 years of firefighting experience or have a high school diploma and at least 10 years with firefighting experience along with several other qualifications including specific knowledge and training.