CEDARVILLE — Community members and friends filled Cedarville’s Grace Baptist Church activity center Saturday to celebrate the retirement of the township’s Fire Chief Scott Baldwin.
The celebration, hosted by Cedarville township trustees and the Cedarville Fireman’s Association, was a time of sharing memories and giving mementos. Many spoke about the lessons they learned from Baldwin — from university students to those who served in the area. And Baldwin talked about why he enjoys sharing his knowledge.
“I can teach you, you can teach someone else, and that person can share that with someone else,” he said. “And those things last for generations.”
Baldwin has served the township for 40 years — he joined the department in 1976 and moved up the ranks to chief. He said that he married his wife, Betty, in January of that year and the fire department in March. He also taught at Cedarville University.
On Saturday, Baldwin wasn’t just recognized with the celebration. Cedarville Mayor Robert Fudge proclaimed June 18, 2016 to be Scott Baldwin Day in Cedarville.
“Scott has been one of our community leaders — people look to him for answers for everything, not just fire stuff,” Fudge said. “Even though he doesn’t work for the village, he works for the village, if you know what I’m saying. He and his wife Betty are stalwarts in the community. I don’t think one day is sufficient, but it’s the best I can do.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that Baldwin is a great chief and a great friend.
“It’s the turnout you see tonight is really a testimonial to what people think of him,” DeWine said. “Not only do they like him, but they know he’s really such a great fire chief.”
DeWine said he really admires how Baldwin’s focused on training.
“He takes some very young Cedarville University students and turns them into people who can go fight fires and people who can respond to emergency squad,” he said. “Almost everyone in this room has in some way benefitted from Scott.”
Doug Chisholm, director of campus safety at Cedarville University, was impressed by Baldwin’s openness to help when they met 25 years ago.
“I thought to myself, ‘This is one dedicated man, and I have never met anyone quite like this other than Chief Gillaugh down there in public safety service,’ ” Chisholm said. “And all those calls at crazy times of the day and night, Scott was always there to minimize damage.”
Some of those calls included a Frisbee hitting a sprinkler head, causing water to shoot all over the dorm and pouring through the ceiling.
“And Scott and his men were right there, minimizing the damage,” Chisholm said. “They would squeegee the water right down the halls. They would put an hour and a half or two hours to save us money. Twenty four, seven, this man did the job. It was always on his mind, and he was always there for us.”
In the middle of the memories, boxes of tissues were broken out as emotions ran high.
“I knew this was an opportunity to tell you what you mean to me,” said Kirk Keller from the Greene County Sheriffs’s department. “I am so thankful God put you in my life. And just the opportunity to work with you … because of the things people have been saying about your leadership, what I’ve learned from you.”
In addition to the stories, Baldwin received many gifts.
Tom Selden, a member of the fire department, donned a Santa hat as he stepped onto the stage. Every Christmas, Baldwin was Chiefy Claus, and Selden briefly took on that role at the celebration. Both gifts referenced memories of Baldwin’s involvement with the fire department.
Displays of some of the chief’s uniforms were set up around the room, including his dress uniform and turnout gear. And Selden referenced these when talking about the second gift.
“It took us quite a while — we’ve been working on this — but late this afternoon, we finally got a hold of Chief’s original turnout gear,” he said.
Baldwin opened a small package to find a pair of child-sized plaid boxers. When Baldwin was young, he used to run out of his house to watch the fire engines when he heard the sirens. One time, he apparently ran out wearing nothing but his underwear.
“He was quite young at the time, and he was running down Main Street chasing the engine,” Selden said. “It’s been a while.”
After hearing from many who knew Baldwin well, Baldwin took the stage. He said that he learned from the previous chief and assistant chief, and he’s been blessed with great officers.
He thanked those in attendance and said he was honored by them coming.
“I appreciate you,” Baldwin said. “Is there anyone in here, by show of hands, who does not know how much I appreciate you?”
Baldwin said he wasn’t sure how the trustees were going to handle things when his time is up and current Assistant Chief Kyle Miller takes the wheel, but he brought Miller and his wife up on stage then. Baldwin removed Miller’s Assistant Chief collar pins and badge, then removed the Chief collar pins and badge from his own shirt. He pinned the Chief collar pins on Miller and handed the badge to Miller’s wife to pin.
And Baldwin said his goal is to support Miller as chief.
“My goal, as well as should be yours, is we need to do for Chief Miller the same as what you did for me,” Baldwin said. “We need to raise him up. We need to support him and do everything possible to make him successful.”
As for his retirement plans, Baldwin said it’ll be a little slower lifestyle, he’s planning on doing some traveling with his wife and he’ll be able to sleep in if he wants.
“I’m still going to be here, and I know I have a servant’s heart, so I’ll get involved in some (things),” Baldwin said. “I coach pee-wee football. But there’s other things I’m sure I’m going to get involved with, I just don’t know what those are yet. So I’m going to keep my heart and my mind open, wherever God leads me, I’ll try to do my best.”
Lauren Eissler is a freelance writer for the Xenia Daily Gazette.