Liberty Twp. names first new fire chief in over 30 years

  • Denise Callahan
  • Staff Writer
5:12 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 West Chester & Liberty Twp
Ethan Klussman, a former battalion chief with the Kettering Fire Department, has been selected as Liberty Twp.’s new fire chief. STAFF PHOTO

Liberty Twp. has named its first new fire chief in more than 30 years.

Ethan Klussman, a former battalion chief with the Kettering Fire Department, will be only the second full time fire chief to serve the township after current Fire Chief Paul Stumpf retires next month. His salary will be $108,000.

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“You talk about somebody who’s got the qualifications, the demeanor, the understanding, the drive,” said Liberty Twp. Trustee Board President Christine Matacic. “He is excited and he excites the rest of us on coming onboard.”

Klussman, a Lebanon resident and firefighter/paramedic since 1996, said he is anxious to get to work in Liberty Twp.

“I’m excited to join the Liberty Township Fire Department in this pivotal time as it strives to meet the growing needs of the community,” Klussman said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to serving the residents and businesses of Liberty Township and leading an incredible staff of dedicated professionals, as well as being part of a leadership team that is passionate about providing exceptional service.”

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The trustees will formally vote on Klussman’s appointment Sept. 5. He is scheduled to join the department Sept. 25. Stumpf agreed to stay on to get the new chief acclimated, and a timeframe of just how long that will be is still being determined.

The township received applications from 28 men for the job. Township Administrator Kristen Bitonte used a team approach — comprised of both internal and external fire professionals and staff — whittling down the candidates to six who had interviews with staff, then the trustees talked with five candidates last week.

Klussman was a firefighter/paramedic for 16 years when he made captain in the Kettering Fire Department in 2012. He was named the department’s battalion chief in July.

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This round of fire chief candidates and interviews was the second for the township.

After Stumpf announced his retirement, trustees enlisted the aide of the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association to screen candidates. Only 19 people applied in the first round and the trustees interviewed three. They extended an offer to one person, but that person backed out.

Trustee Steve Schramm told the Journal-News he asked the new batch of candidates why they didn’t apply the first time and several were under the impression the person had to be an existing fire chief. He said there was also some misunderstanding about degree requirements.

Matacic said some of the educational programs are very new and people might be in varying degrees of completion.

Klussman’s resume indicates he will be getting his degree in Emergency Medical Services Fire Science from Sinclair College in the spring of 2018. He also is a graduate of the two-and-a-half year Ohio Fire Executive program.