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The Chillicothe Voice

Why I Joined Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District – Assistant Chief Tim Strunk

Jul 26, 2023 02:14PM ● By Assistant Chief Tim Strunk

My name is Tim Strunk. I have lived within the district almost my entire life and grew up within the community. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing daughters.

When I was a kid, my father was on the Chillicothe Community Fire Department, as were most of his friends. I remember the social gatherings and remember the brotherhood the fire service provided. Later, my father joined the Peoria Fire Department, and I continued to grow up in firehouses, making a lot of close friends along the way; I was drawn to the sense of community the fire service offered.

I was a member of Boy Scout Troop 53 and earned the Eagle Scout Award, which taught me the value of giving back to the community. But after that, I had to ask myself, what is next? The Boy Scouts offer an Explorer Scout program focusing on businesses and community organizations. It just so happened the Peoria Fire Explorers were being chartered simultaneously, so I made the shift.

Through the Fire Explorers, I started training and learning the basics of firefighting. I was hooked. I learned that fire service blended critical thinking and physical strength. You never knew what would come next, so I had to be prepared constantly. In addition, it was where I learned the importance of helping “Mrs. Smith.” “Mrs. Smith” represents the cornerstone of everyone in our community and serves as our “true north” for customer service and competence.

When I turned 18 years old, I submitted my application, and one month later, I started on the Chillicothe Community Fire Department. I was assigned to Fire Station 4 on 3rd Street in Rome. It was a small and dark firehouse, but it was always clean. The membership inspired me to help keep it that way, too (…no one wanted to fail a Chief Mike Myers white glove inspection). Later, I learned the importance of this, as there is a direct correlation between cleanliness and pride.

I have been on the department for a quarter of a century now, and there has been a lot of change. We have built a new fire station in Rome, changed our entire apparatus fleet, merged the city and community fire departments, and created a fire protection district. While the apparatus, tools, equipment, and people have changed, the core mission of helping “Mr. AND Mrs. Smith” has not. We are here to provide critical public service and do so on a volunteer basis. We must stay competent and proficient in providing service and protecting the community. All of this takes time and is a big commitment, but the personal satisfaction gained is worth the sacrifice.

Progressively I have moved through the ranks, where I am now the Assistant Chief in charge of training. In this role, I hope to pass along some of the knowledge I have acquired to the next generation of firefighters. Is that going to be you?