Ross Keasling’s First Years as Indiana Fire Marshall
By Elisabeth Dodd, Staff Writer
Liberty is a town full of people working for others, many times without the recognition and title they deserve, which is why seeing Ross Keasling as an Indiana Fire Marshall is rewarding.
Keasling was born into a family of firefighters. His grandfather Bobby Ross was fighting fires for 56 years, and his father, Mac Keasling, for 37. Ross is on year 27 as a firefighter for the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, and it'll be his second year as a fire marshall at the end of January.
“For a short time, my sister was on the Liberty Fire Department and my brother got on four months ago. It's a family thing. I've always been around it, and wanted to serve the community when I was able,” said Keasling.
His position as an investigator for 10 counties, including Union County, blends his curiosity and diligence into one tailor-made position.
“I've always been interested in this position, every time we called the fire marshall I'd go with them to glean that knowledge and see the investigation side of it. To see how the fire started is like a big puzzle. You look at the big picture and jot things down until you get to where it started. You examine areas from least to most damaged and get to the area of suspected origin, submit for analysis,” said Keasling.
When Keasling is not solving puzzles in the field, he's managing the evidence room, busy sharing his findings at court or educating the public on fire safety. He's also a student at Miami University finishing up a degree in forensic investigations.
While his mental agility has only gotten sharper with time and experience, having supplemental education and working at a family owned insurance agency for 23 years, the physical demands of his new position were intense. Keasling had to enroll at the Indiana Law Force Academy as a sworn officer and at 48 years-old, Keasling was the third oldest person there. It's with pride that Keasling reminisces on the challenge of the grueling workouts and exit standards.
However, he also takes pride in the work he put in every day on the Liberty Fire Department where he has the difficult job of helping people he most likely knows well, on their worst day.
“There's lots of tragedy when we get called. In a small town, we all know each other and when it is all over, it is nice to be there for other people,” said Keasling.
As for the future, despite being a few months shy of two years in his position, he sees himself there for a long time. He has two more classes before he earns his degree from Miami University, where he is also an off-ice Red Hawk official, and he and his wife and two children to spend time with. Somewhere far down the line towards retirement, Keasling would like to switch to private investigations where there is more flexibility in his schedule.
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