Cothran retires as fire chief


ROSSBURG — What is usually the Rossburg Fire Department’s (RFD’s) annual Appreciation Banquet Saturday evening also turned into a surprise “party” for Fire Chief Doug Cothran, who is retiring from that position after 20 years.

Wife Carla, with the help of others who work at the fire department, pulled it off.

“I was asked to join the fire department when we moved into the area back in 1987,” Cothran said. “I thought it was a good way to become part of the community.”

He became chief in May 2000, taking over after Dann “Slug” Widener decided to step away from fire service.

What all has taken place in the fire department since he took over during his tenure as chief?

“We increased the training; through grants, were able to upgrade equipment; worked on participation/training with neighboring departments; increased involvement in the community, such as the Community Thanksgiving with the Rossburg Methodist Church; and moved into a different facility,” he responded. “The original department was located on West Main Street in a building across from Depweg’s, now Jackie’s Place. The old fire department had no running water and one garage door for three fire apparatus.”

He continued, “We went from 3/4 rubber boots and rubber coats to bunker coats and pants and leather coats. The safety gear and equipment has evolved from six radios for the whole department to every firefighter having a radio. Air packs were limited (four air packs) to an air pack for every riding position.”

Cothran said he has no regrets for going into firefighting.

“I found a passion that could help others,” said the 1979 graduate of Ansonia High School.

Cothran, who graduated from Hocking Technical College with an associate’s degree in applied sciences in 1981, went to work at BASF.

He and the former Carla Jean Dakin Black were married in 1982.

“In 1988, two months after becoming certified as a firefighter, our son was born in August,” said Cothran, who is currently working at Clopay and most likely will retire from there.

The retired fire chief has no plans on leaving the department.

“I was honored when asked by the new fire Chief, Rob Widener to help continue our safety culture that we built at Rossburg,” he said.

When asked what was the most memorable fire in his firefighting career, he replied, “The fire that sticks in my memory is the fire that took place in Lightsville shortly after becoming chief. I was still new and learned quite a bit from that fire. It is the incident that I realized I needed to learn more from my peers. That is what started my passion for fire training and teaching. The other incident that will never leave me is an accident that happened on Brock-Cosmos Road with a 16-year-old young lady who was a friend of the family. We had to wait on an extrication tool to remove her from her car. She unfortunately passed the following day. At that point, RFD realized that we needed to have our own tool. At that time, Assistant Chief Rob Widener applied and received a grant to purchase the tool. We train extensively with the tool and have only had to use it a handful of times.”

Cothran became an instructor in 2008 and been with Clark State since 2012, because of his passion for safety and training new firefighters.

During his firefighting years, he worked under the auspices of Chiefs Steve Miller, Dann Widener, Scott Kaiser and Dann Widener again.

He is proud of his department.

“That is tough to put into words,” stated Cothran. “I am really proud of the attitude that not only the firefighters have about learning and safety but proud of their connection with the community. A big thank you goes to everyone that made my time as chief enjoyable and memorable and to the community for all the support they show the Rossburg Fire Department.”

More on the appreciation dinner will appear in the Early Bird this coming weekend.

Doug Cothran, who is retiring as Rossburg Fire Department’s fire chief after 20 years, turns over his helmet to Rob Widener, his successor, at the department’s annual appreciation banquet Saturday night. Cothran, who is retiring as Rossburg Fire Department’s fire chief after 20 years, turns over his helmet to Rob Widener, his successor, at the department’s annual appreciation banquet Saturday night. Courtesy photo

By Linda Moody

Contact Darke County Media Staff Writer Linda Moody at [email protected] or 937-569-4315, ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at

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