Longtime Liberty Twp. fire chief to retire

Fire Chief Paul Stumpf will retire next September after 45 years of work in Liberty Twp.

Stumpf has served as fire chief since 1985. He spent nine years at the helm of the volunteer department until 1994 when the department shifted from a volunteer department to a full-time fire department.

“Our community is a better place thanks to chief Stumpf’s 45 years of service. He’s the longest serving fire chief in Liberty Twp. and while we understand his decision to step down next year, he leaves big shoes to fill,” trustee board President Tom Farrell said. “We’re grateful for his dedication and leadership.”

Stumpf, a lifelong resident of the area, began his fire service career as a member of the township’s volunteer department in September 1972. At the time, he was working full-time in the heavy equipment and construction field but fire service became his passion. He was named chief in 1985 and spent nine years helping to plan for the future and shape the fire department.

The chief recalls a time when the only protective gear they had were essentially rain coats, thigh-high boots, plastic helmets and rubber gloves. They only had two air packs. Rarely if ever did they enter a burning structure because it usually took a long time to get crews round up and responding.

“By the time you got there the fire had either progressed to the point where the house couldn’t be save or it was beyond the part where it was safe even with today’s equipment to go in,” he said. “If you did go in a fire, it was extremely dangerous.”

They made about 30 runs a year then, Stumpf said. By comparison, firefighters and medics made 230 runs in August of this year.

When Liberty Twp. shifted to a full-time fire department in 1994, the township had just over 9,000 residents. The community experienced a significant residential boom in the late 1990s, and in 2000 the U.S. Census reported 22,800 residents in the township. New stations, personnel and equipment were added under Stumpf’s leadership.

“I’ve been honored to work alongside Chief Stumpf for nearly 20 years. His commitment to the Liberty Twp. Fire Department (LTFD) and the men and women who serve the LTFD is remarkable. He took a rural, volunteer fire department and transformed it into a well-respected, full-time department with some of the best-trained firefighters and EMTs in the region,” Trustee Christine Matacic said. “He should be very proud of the legacy he’ll leave.”

Stumpf will step down in September 2017 although an exact date has not been determined. He told the Journal-News that 45 years “seemed like a nice round number.”

“The decision to retire is never easy, but I feel good about the timing. Achieving 45 years of service is a great goal and I’m extremely proud of the LTFD. We’ve seen a lot of changes — a ton of residential growth and more recently, a significant increase in commercial growth. It’s been exciting to be part of the community’s development and to play such an important role in shaping the LTFD,” Stumpf said. “The changes Liberty Twp. has experienced in my career are remarkable. It’s been a pleasure serving the residents, the Board and our department.”

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