By Ed Brock
As a child in Ohio Morrow's new Fire Chief Mark Herendeen used to watch his neighbor, a volunteer firefighter, run out on calls.
"By 15 I started thinking about it," Herendeen said.
One month after turning 18 he began the more than 27-year firefighting career that has now led him to his new position. Officially his first day is Monday, but on Wednesday 45-year-old Herendeen was at the Morrow Fire Station meeting his new people and looking over his facility.
"This is a nice city. It's very clean and friendly," Herendeen said. "I already feel like I'm at home."
Home before this was Grand River, a subdivision of Cleveland where Herendeen had spent much of his career, including eight years as chief. The Morrow department is a little larger than the Grand River Fire Department. But Herendeen has also worked at large departments and ran calls with the East Cleveland Fire Department, gaining a lot of experience with the larger call volume and crime of a big city.
"To me when I drove down Jonesboro Road it reminded me of being at home with all the commercial development," Herendeen said.
Morrow's previous fire chief, David Wall, left the city in November after more than a decade of service to return to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth from whence he came to the city. Morrow City Manager John Lampl and Mayor Jim Millirons said the picked Herendeen from about eight candidates after conducting an international search.
"We took our time," Lampl said.
Millirons said it was Herendeen's personality that made him stand out.
"His vigor. He has vision. He participates," Millirons said.
Herendeen said he had been looking for a new position and this job puts him close to his sister in Acworth.
"After my interview I just knew I wanted to be here," Herendeen said.
A bachelor who likes golf and sports (he's a "true Ohio State Buckeyes fan"), Herendeen said he plans to live in Morrow and his girlfriend plans to join him. He hasn't met the county's other fire chiefs yet but he's impressed by the training of the men and women on the Morrow department.
"Chief Wall had a good plan and I can tell," Herendeen said.