Liberty Township Fire Department Learns from the Past and Looks to the Future
Big changes are no surprise at the Liberty Township Fire Department (LTFD). Since Paul Stumpf’s start as a firefighter there in 1972, he’s seen it all change: locations, technology, stations, alert systems, gear, training and education. In September, Chief Stumpf made the biggest shift yet. After 45 years of public service, he hung up his helmet to begin his retirement.
Liberty Township has seen a population and business development boom over the years that has transformed farm fields into the neighborhoods and centers of commerce that we now call home. The community blossomed from 3,500 in 1972 to its current 40,000+ residents.
“In 1972 we had one traffic light here in Liberty Township,” Stumpf says.
A neighbor first invited Stumpf to join the fire department, which was then a group of about thirty volunteers.
“It seemed like a good thing to do at the time,” Stumpf shrugs. “We had a 1953 pumper, a 1952 used gasoline tanker…and an old 1957 Jeep that was a brush truck. That was it.”
In 1985, Stumpf became the first Fire Chief of the all-volunteer force. Then, beginning in 1994, under his leadership, LTFD gradually added part-time and full-time employees, echoing the area’s growth. The Department’s response to the rapid changes in the region brings Stumpf the greatest pride.
“We knew it was coming,” he explains. “We saw the development moving from Cincinnati north, from Dayton south, from Hamilton east…we watched it come in on us. We had the benefit of watching what other departments and municipalities went through to transition. We saw what they did that worked and what they did that didn’t work.”
“Slowly we’ve increased the level of service and increased staffing,” he says. We’ve got 24 firefighter paramedics and nine lieutenants. It has been a smooth transition.”
The only constant during Stumpf’s tenure is the support from the Township Administration and the community.
“People have been great,” Stumpf says. “We’ve always had the support of the Trustees. We’ve always had the support of the community…tax levies, fundraisers, you name it.”
Stumpf will miss everything about LTFD, but he’ll miss the people the most.
“It’s a tight-knit group. We are one big family,” he says.
It’s time for another change. Ethan Klussman, the new Liberty Township Fire Chief is already at the station. What does he see coming? More of the same.
“There’s going to be a lot more change,” Klussman states. “We are growing so fast. Our population is going to continue to increase.”
A native of Maineville and Mason, Klussman knows the growth of the area firsthand. He comes to Liberty Township with 21½ years of full-time service, having risen through the ranks with the Kettering Fire Department.
“With all that growth comes more challenges for us to provide the right services,” he explains. “As we look at the service we provide, we need to be making sure that we keep pace with the growth of the community—that’s very important.”
Chief Klussman is making a strong start by focusing on building relationships with his team.
“Right now the big goal is to get to know all the personnel. To come in and get a feel for the talent and skills and ability everybody has is my first big challenge,” Klussman says. “I’ll be taking a look at how I mesh that with my vision of what the department can be.”
“Paul has laid a great foundation. It’s like steering a ship—he’s got us headed in the right direction. We just make some course adjustments and we can move forward in a really positive way.”
LTFD is on a course for success.