James McDonald was born July 6, 1960 in Painesville, Ohio at Lake Hospital and has lived in Leroy, Ohio since birth. At the young age of four, this future Fire Chief already knew the difference between the “house” phone and the “fire” phone because his father was the Fire Chief in Leroy.He knew not to touch the “fire” phone because “back in the day” the Fire Chief had a “fire” phone in his house so that when it rang they knew they had a call.
In 1984, Jim built his home, doing most of the work himself, with help from his family and friends. He married Kim, on July 4, 1988. They had their first child, James B., on June 20, 1989. Their second child, Jacob Lee, was born July 10, 1992. Their third son, Joseph David, was born May 7, 1996.
Jim’s father was one of the founders of the Men’s Club, before becoming Fire Chief for Leroy, OH. The Men’s Club actually built the first truck, equipped it and built a building to house it. He became Fire Chief in 1963 and served for 20 years. Both his parents were very active in the community. His mother was a member of the Fire Auxiliary (a group of Leroy ladies) who organized and worked fundraisers to purchase equipment, including the first ambulance acquired by a fire department in Lake County.
Jim became a Volunteer Junior Firefighter in July of 1973 at the age of 13.At age 18 he became a regular Volunteer Firefighter for the department and was promoted to Lieutenant for Leroy in 1980. In 1986 he was appointed by the Trustees to the position of Fire Chief. He served in this position for 16 years until he was offered the Fire Chief position in Perry Joint Fire District in Ohio in October of 2002 where he currently serves as Chief.
He belongs to the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association; the International Chief’s Association; the IAAI, (International Association of Arson Investigation); past president of the Lake County Fire Chief’s and member of Lake County Fire Chief’s Association; the Northeast Ohio Fire Chief’s Association; and a member of the Safety program for Perry Schools. He is the leader of the Lake County East End Fire Investigation Unit. In 2007 he participated in the National Congress for Secure Communities Program.
On March 4, 1995 he was awarded, by the Greater Cleveland Crime Prevention Committee, a plaque recognizing him for the arrest and conviction of an arsonist.
He is currently the assistant lead instructor for the Auburn Firefighter Level I and Level II Course. He also is an EMS Instructor; HazMat Technician Instructor and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) Instructor.
He holds certification in the following: Firefighter Level I and Level II; Paramedic; Arson Investigation; Fire Inspector; Fire Instructor; HazMat Technician; Ice Rescue; Water Rescue; High Angle Rope Rescue and Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Now, he has the honor of seeing his oldest son graduate from the Ohio Fire Academy to continue the strong tradition of the McDonald family.