Thursday, June 1, 2023
AUBURN, Ind. – It was a structure fire that caught his attention in the early 1990s that led Auburn Deputy Fire Chief Doug Cox to pursue a career as a firefighter.
In 1991 Cox began his career as a volunteer firefighter with the Washington Township Fire Department in Allen County, 32 years later he is being promoted to the position of chief of the Auburn Fire Department.
In front of family, friends and his fellow firefighters Cox took his oath of office Thursday afternoon at Station 2 officially taking over for retiring Chief Mike VanZile.
“I am pleased to be able to promote one of our own from within the department,” said Mayor Mike Ley. “With Doug’s background, experience and passion, the department is under great command.”
VanZile, who served as Auburn Fire Chief for the past 18 years, said Cox is going to be a great fire chief for the city’s department. VanZile was also a member of the Butler Fire Department for 10 years.
“Doug understands what it means to be a Servant Leader, he cares for our residents, his fellow firefighters, and the department,” VanZile said.
Cox became a full-time firefighter with the Auburn Fire Department in 1997 after leaving his career in business and accounting.
He said his wife’s family who were heavily involved in the Washington Township department also helped to persuade him to pursue a career as a firefighter.
“I just fell in love with it,” he said.
While serving as a full-time firefighter Cox continued to seek out education and training something that is stressed by the City of Auburn Fire Department.
With a regional training ground on site at Auburn Fire Department’s Station 2 the local department takes pride in its training. The regional training grounds is used to train firefighters from around northeast Indiana.
“Our guys are very well trained,” he said. “I would put our guys up against anyone they are very capable.”
Cox said he looks forward to helping expand the department’s training ground as the city recently purchased 4.15 acres of land south of Station 2 off Cardinal Court. The land will be used for the expansion of the department’s training facility.
He said the new area will help firefighters with training on such incidents similar to the train derailment in New Palestine, Ohio in February.
“We have to be cognizant of these types of incidents,” Cox said. “We are very excited to get the new training ground up and running.”
VanZile said he is confident that Cox will continue to grow the Auburn Fire Department and work to exceed the expectations of the community.
Cox and his wife, Stacey currently live in Auburn. He said she has been very supportive of his career over the years.
In looking toward, the future Cox said he is humbled to be named chief of a rapidly growing city.
VanZile won’t be leaving emergency services completely as he has taken a position as deputy director of DeKalb County Homeland Security, working closely with director Jason Meek.