HARLAN TWP., OH. — For nearly half a century, Harlan Township in Warren County has had only one fire chief.
On Saturday, Chief Andy Mitten finally said goodbye to the department he helped start 43 years ago.
"We started in a little pole barn with a gravel floor," said Mitten. "No bathrooms. No water."
Mitten has been there from the very humble beginnings of the Harlan Township Fire and Rescue.
After starting the department, Mitten has stood at the helm since, in addition to serving as the township administrator.
"We started the Harlan Township Fire Department with 14 volunteers," said Mitten. "I was the only one with any fire experience and then we grew from there."
With a population of just over 5,000 residents, the township of Harlan is an intimate community, and many members of that community came out to help celebrate Mitten's well-deserved retirement.
"The support that this fire department has from the community is second to none," said Dusty Vinop, the new fire chief with Harlan Township Fire and Rescue. He adds that Mitten has left large shoes to fill within the department. "Just his personality, his love for the community, his love for everyone. He doesn't know an enemy."
Mitten said he plans to split his retirement between Florida and Ohio, and after 54 years as a firefighter, he simply wants one thing: some time to relax.