Austintown fire Chief Andy Frost Jr. is stepping down as of Sunday, Aug. 5 after serving 46 years with the department. His plans, at present, are to keep busy and spend more time with family.
"My number one plan is to enjoy my grandchildren," Frost said. "I haven't had time to enjoy them like I should. I have 13 grandchildren and they are in sports and other activities that I would like to keep up on."
In looking back over his career, Frost recalled how he got so much time in the Austintown department. Frost graduated from Youngstown's North High School in 1961. Shortly after graduation, his parents decided to move to Austintown because they thought is was a better school district for Frost's five younger brothers.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Early next week, Austintown fire Chief Andy Frost Jr. will be starting a new segment of his life. He is officially retiring as of Sunday, Aug. 5.
Frost's first job was working at an East Side grocery store. He began moving up the ladder when he was hired as a milk delivery driver for Isaly's Dairy.
In 1963, he married and bought his own home in Austintown. Three years later in April, he was hired by General Motors Lordstown and the following month, joined the Austintown Fire Department as a part-time firefighter. In 1980, he was hired as a full-time firefighter.
"I was Austintown's first full-time firefighter," he said.
One of Frost's duties became fire inspections, which gave him the knowledge to be promoted to assistant chief four years later. He held that position for about a year and in September of 1985, he was named fire chief.
In his 27 years as chief, Frost devoted his career to improving the fire service, not just for Austintown, but for the entire county. He worked closely with the late Canfield fire Chief Bob Tieche and the two created the Mahoning County Fire Chief's Association. Both chiefs were also instrumental in bringing the county its first HAZMAT team.
When asked what his biggest accomplishment was, Frost gave a definite answer.
"The Meander Bridge was my biggest accomplishment," he said.
The bridge is a rare case where Austintown handles the east side and North Jackson takes care of the west. The problems included accessing the bridge for a wreck when traffic is stopped and the danger of chemicals entering the reservoir it crossed.
Frost started work on the bridge project in 1993. He had several heated debates on what was needed for the bridge. Ground was broken for the project in 2006 and it included emergency vehicle access ramps as well as a chemical detention area.
Even though Frost's career was the center of his life, he always was involved in other things as well. In the early 1960s, he raced a stock car at the former Canfield Motor Speedway. He has also been involved with the Austintown Little Falcons football program for close to 30 years.
In his spare time, he also ran Frost Foto, a company specializing in photo buttons, that grew bigger than expected.
"When my kids were little we also got them photo buttons," Frost said. "One day we went out and bought the equipment and opened our own business. It expanded into much more such as weddings and class reunions."
For 25 years, Frost and his family ran the photo button tent at the Canfield Fair, but he had to close it after he was elected as Canfield Fair Board director seven years ago. As director, he is in charge of fire protection, EMS, Red Cross, the Medical Building and the International Building. The position required a lot of work.
"I have never worked so hard for no money in my life," he said. "It does have its rewards though."
While he is setting aside his chief's hat in the township, Frost will continue to affect the future of the fire service. He is maintaining his position as director of fire training at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Canfield, where he trains young firefighters to be safer and more effective in their public safety role.
Add to all of that and his position as president of Parish Council at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and it will still be a full life even after Aug. 5.
One thing he will continue is his one passion for unwinding, and that is sailing. Frost keeps a sailboat at Pymatuning Lake, where he is a member of the yacht club.
When he does get a free moment, he can reflect on his 46 years with Austintown Fire Department and the changes he helped make. He said there is one thing he will truly miss though.
"I will miss the people I have worked with over the years," he said. "They are the best bunch you'd ever want to know."
Although he will be walking away from the chief's position, it will be left in good hands as Andy Frost III will be taking over as interim chief until trustees make a permanent selection.