GREEN  As the city recognized Fire Captain Randy Raines Oct. 25 for his selection as the 2016 Ohio Fire Officer of the Year, a first for a member of the Green department, Mayor Gerard Neugebauer drew upon personal experience to illustrate the makeup of the man.

"I’d like to describe the first time I met Capt. Raines," Neugebauer said during a ceremony honoring Raines before city council’s regular meeting. "I had bronchitis and was on my way back home from the doctor’s office and I came around the corner and into a snow drift.

"So there I was, coughing my head off, trying to push my car out of a snow drift and Randy came running down the road and helped me out of the snowdrift. I didn’t even know who he was."

That dedication to duty, on or off the job, remains illustrative of Raines, Neugebauer said.

"He is a great leader in the fire division and a great citizen in our community," he said.

A first for Green

Accompanied by family, friends and colleagues, Raines was named Firefighter of the Year from the Ohio Department of Public Safety Division of EMS during the state’s 36th annual Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame ceremony in September.

The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal and the Ohio Department of Public Safety Division of EMS awards the fire service’s highest honors to firefighters and fire officers each year.

"They only pick one a year," Green Fire Chief Jeff Funai said. "And it’s the first time ever for Green. When you think about all the fire officers in Ohio, it’s really a cool thing. We are as proud as we can be of him."

Funai went on to say that Raines’ character and leadership qualities have helped shape the department over the years and has been instrumental in shaping the next generation of firefighters.

"He does things the right way and he always has," Funai said. "He is truly deserving of this high honor."

At the council meeting, Funai also pointed out that Raines has been elected into the Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame. Recognizing the capacity crowd of assembled fire department staff at the meeting, Funai added.

"That is the culture (Raines) helped build.  Future generations at the fire academy will see the city of Green as the base of his good effort."

City council president, Ken Knodel, said simply.

"This is why we have a great fire department."

30 year veteran

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Raines has been a member of the Green Fire Division for 30 years. In 1989, Raines was promoted to lieutenant and served as a shift officer, heading the training division of the fire department. In 2005 he was promoted to captain and currently serves as a shift commander.

Raines is responsible for the development, instruction and implementation of the fire department’s various rescue teams, Hazmat Team, the Water Shuttle Program, and its medical and fitness program for members of the department.

Raines also participates in training many area departments with technical rescue, water shuttle, officer development, and Rapid Intervention Team (RIT). Raines teaches in a Tech-Prep program at Portage Lakes Career Center, serves as an instructor for Stark State College where he provides EMS education.

Surprise letter

When he received the letter from the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal confirming his selection, and asking if he would be able to attend the September ceremony, Raines said he nearly threw it away.

"I had no idea and just thought, ‘it’s nothing. Wrong address or something’ and I sat it aside," he said. "Then I got a call the next day asking if I’d received the letter. I was blown away; it’s a heck of an honor to be considered, then selected."

Learned from the best

For the good impression Raines has had on those he has worked with, instructed and supervised over the past three decades, he credits many of those who came before him.

"I was lucky to be surrounded by very good people – my early mentors," Raines said.

After earning his education degree at the University of Akron, Raines began started working for the Green department. He followed that up by earning a two-year associates degree in Fire Science from Stark State – a course that was taught by two of the most influential firemen in Raines career – then Plain Township Chief John Sabo – now a Plain Township trustee, and Ted Heck, former Jackson Township chief.

Raines also cited Perry Township Chief Mark Martin and Green fire captains Mark Resanovich and Greg Morgan as early inspirations.

In fact, Raines has never really stopped being a student – a point that, he said, is vital in his line of work.

"I don’t think you can ever be satisfied," he said. "You’ve got to keep up on everything. Like new construction, fire reacts differently than it did 10 years ago and you don’t want to get caught behind the 8 ball."

He has also learned, Raines added with a laugh, to be a little more careful with what mail he tosses out.