TIPP CITY — Tipp City’s new fire and EMS chief is settling into his new role in a new city, something he said is fun, but humbling.
“It’s humbling because you think you have a good grasp on everything that’s going on and you quickly find out that you have a whole new thing to learn,” said Cameron Haller. Haller was Sidney’s deputy fire chief and had worked for the city since 1995 before starting at the Tipp City department last month.
A self-described people person, Haller said getting to know the people as well the new system is “vitally important.”
Unlike his old department in Sidney, Tipp City has part-time emergency medical staff and a volunteer fire department, which has made getting acquainted with everyone a little tricky. At a full-time department, it’s easy to meet everyone within a couple of days.
“But the troops have welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been on some EMS calls already, I’ve been on some fire calls already,” he said. “Everybody understands when I don’t use the right radio call signal.”
One thing that doesn’t change from department to department in Ohio: professional certifications.
“So once we get on the scene, we’re all the same. We’re all on the same page,” he said. “I know what I’m doing, you know what you’re doing, let’s go.”
Haller never planned to be a firefighter. When he was a young man in the Navy, a friend asked Haller for a ride to the mall to buy a new pair of shoes for his work as a volunteer firefighter.
“For two hours, he answered every question I had and he finally got sick of talking about it and said, ‘If you’re so interested, go sign up,’” Haller recalled. So he went and signed up to be a volunteer firefighter. “I was on that department for a year as a volunteer and in the Navy. I just absolutely fell in love with it. I knew… that I was going to become a firefighter/paramedic somehow.”
There were some setbacks along the way, Haller said. After he got out of the military in 1992, his sister died in a car accident about a week before he was set to marry his wife. The instructor of the EMT class he was taking at the time recommended that he take some time off from his studies.
“I listened, begrudgingly, but I listened,” he said. Haller worked in a factory while taking night classes before taking a job with the Sidney Fire Department, where he eventually became deputy chief.
“I’ve had a lot of fun,” he said. “Somebody put me in the right place at the right time for the right reason. Multiple times.”
The Tipp City department is busy and well-equipped, Haller said, and he’s happy to be on board.
“Tipp is a bustling small town. Things are happening all the time,” he said.
Haller said he’s been trying to advance in his field for his entire career, earning a Master’s in Public Administration and completing the Ohio Fire Executive program. He started looking for available positions around the state of Ohio, but didn’t want to move without his family’s support.
His sons are older and out of the house, but his daughter is still in high school. She will be able to commute to school for her senior year, Haller said, and his wife still works in Sidney.
“Professionally, (Tipp City) was a good fit. Personally, it was a good fit. Geographically, it was a good fit,” he said. “It’s a great professional opportunity.”
The commute to work is a little longer than it used to be too — when he worked in Sidney, he lived less than a mile from the station — at least until he moves to Tipp City.
“I’m the type of guy, if I’m going to affect an ordinance and people’s lives, I better be affected by it too,” he said.