Fire Chief Introduces New Hires, Two Made Possible by Income Tax
Above from left: ELFD’s James Ladiski, Ashton Kethum, Matthew Berger, Erica Ehm, and Randy Talifarro
East Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro introduced three newly hired Firefighter Paramedics and one highly-trained Lieutenant to the City Council last Tuesday, and spoke to Council briefly about finances and diversity in terms of the new hires.
Talifarro explained that a total of four new Firefighter Paramedics have been hired recently. Two positions filled recent vacancies, and two filled positions that had been lost due to funding cuts in previous years.
Talifarro said that those positions were able to be restored thanks to the passage of the income tax by voters earlier this year. He thanked the City Council for their work on getting the new tax passed.
“We are very grateful for all of your work and all of your efforts there,” Talifarro concluded.
The tax is expected to net the City about $5 million in extra revenue per year, and according to the proposal that passed, 20% of that net new revenue from the income tax must be used for “police and fire protection” for East Lansing.
Talifarro also praised the City Manager and City Council for focusing on diversification of the workforce. He said it was “a rarity still” to find women to hire in firefighting and praised the selection committee for their work, which ultimately resulted in hiring two women into four new Firefighter Paramedic positions.
Introducing Erica Ehm, Talifarro told Council that the new position as Firefighter Paramedic in East Lansing represents a return home personally for Ehm, who has been working “up north.” She received her firefighting and EMS training at Lansing Community College (LCC), and also holds a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State.
Ashton Ketchum is following in the footsteps of her father John Newman, who is a Lieutenant in ELFD. According to Talifarro, this is the first father/daughter combination that the Department as seen.
“We tell Ashton that, in spite of her dad, we hired her anyway,” Talifarro joked.
Ketchum has worked as a firefighter since 2015, joining the ELFD after working in Delta Township.
Matthew Berger was employed as a firefighter for five years in Dewitt Township before joining the ELFD, and also worked as a Livingston County Paramedic. He received his firefighter training from LCC as well.
A fourth Firefighter Paramedic, Curtis Heinze, was also recently hired, but was unable to attend the presentation.
In addition to the new hires, Talifarro also introduced James Ladiski who was promoted to Lieutenant in 2017 but who, for scheduling reasons, hadn’t been introduced to the City Council yet. Talifarro explained that Ladiski is certified in many different types of technical rescue operations, including tower rescue, confined space and structural collapse rescue, and trench rescue.
“I like to say that I would be heroic enough to swing off a helicopter [for a tower rescue], but I’m not sure,” Talifarro said, describing the maneuvers necessary to rescue someone from a cell phone tower or wind turbine tower.
Ladiski also works with the Peer Support team in the ELFD and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Ministry Leadership from Spring Arbor University.