Columbus Township fire chief stepping down

Columbus Township Fire and Rescue is looking for a new fire chief.

After 11 years, Rodney S. Ferrenburg will officially step down from the department’s top administrative position Tuesday to focus on running his auto repair business, he said.

Deputy Chief Zach Armstrong is the interim chief until the department’s advisory board and other firefighters select a permanent replacement in early April.

Ferrenburg, 42, said his wife, Brianna, have been running Columbus Collision Center, 351 S. Mapleton St., since the couple purchased it about a year ago.

Serving on a full-time professional basis since 2004, Ferrenburg succeeded former chief Kevin Green in 2005.

He said he has now put in enough time to retire as a paid administrator, which will enable him to concentrate on his automotive business.

But like the 35 volunteers who serve the township’s fire and rescue department, Ferrenburg will continue in an unpaid capacity as either a line officer or a firefighter, he said.

He has been one of six paid professionals employed by the department.

Originally founded in July 1942, as the East Columbus Independent Fire Department, the organization became the first responder for fire and rescue calls in unincorporated areas of Columbus Township.

Today, the department covers 35 square miles of Bartholomew County compared to 20 square miles covered by Columbus city firefighters.

When Ferrenburg was first accepted as a cadet at 14 years old, he mostly worked with his father, the late Michael Ferrenburg, a disabled Vietnam veteran who served as the department’s photographer for 26 years.

Rodney Ferrenburg completed extensive firefighting and emergency medical training that his father, who suffered lung disease due to Agent Orange exposure, was physically unable to do.

After outgrowing its 30-year-old station on South Marr Road, the department opened a $1 million fire station on Repp Drive in June 2003 that included offices for the American Red Cross of Bartholomew-Brown County.

Today, the department also operates a second station at 4830 Progress Drive.

“A new chief may want to tweak things, but I don’t look for our service to change,” Ferrenburg said. “We will continue to provide quality service the community can be proud of.”

About Rodney S. Ferrenburg

Age: 42   

Occupation: Chief of Columbus Township Fire and Rescue since 2005.  Co-owner of Columbus Collision Center since early 2015.

Years as firefighter: 28

Education: 1992 graduate of Columbus East High School. 

Qualifications: Emergency Medical Technician, Classified Level 1 and 2 firefighter by the National Fire Protection Association, certified in structural fires, investigations, handling of hazardous materials and vehicle extrication.     

Family:  Wife, Brianna. Two sons: Zachary, 17, and Samuel, 12.  One daughter, Gabby, 5.   

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.