Starcher’s retirement was effective Wednesday, ending more than 23 years of service with the city. He was hired in February 1994 and is remembered by his fellow firefighters as a go-getter who focused on training, professionalism, commitment and giving back to the community.
Norwalk Safety-Service Director Dan Wendt informed city council of Starcher’s retirement during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Lt. Starcher will leave a big hole which will be hard to fill. As many of you know, he is an instructor at EHOVE (Career Center), is well respected in the fire community and his leadership will be missed. As an administration, we wish him luck in his endeavors and hope to see him around the new station,” Wendt said.
Chief John Soisson echoed the safety-service director’s sentiments.
“This is going to leave a large hole in the Norwalk Fire Department,” the chief said. “He focused on fire safety every day at work. On his off days, he worked on fire stuff every day.”
Soisson credits Starcher with being “the big reason” the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads have annual training sessions at the Huron County Fairgrounds.
“They bring in people from three states. It’s one of the best trainings in the country,” Soisson said.
Starcher also was instrumental in organizing and coordinating the first-responders’ memorial on Shady Lane Drive.
Despite how much Starcher paid it forward, Soisson said the lieutenant preferred to remain behind the scenes.
“He was not looking for credit, but that’s what he felt needed to be done,” the chief added.
“He was a big influence on the young guys (in the department) on commitment and the expectations of being a firefighter. He always stressed to them about perfecting their craft,” Soisson said.
Firefighter Josh Burgess worked with Starcher for nearly six years. Starcher was the lead instructor when Burgess was a student at the EHOVE fire academy in 2010.
Burgess said Starcher exemplifies “firm but fair leadership.” He learned as much from the veteran’s teachable moments at the Norwalk station as he did from him at EHOVE.
“He always motivated you to be better than him,” Burgess said.
Starcher didn’t just serve the city of Norwalk; he was in the U.S. Army. Raised in Greenwich, he is a South Central High School graduate.
Firefighter Ben Blodgett, who worked with Starcher for about five years, described his co-worker as being driven and having a strong work ethic.
“Jamie was a great role model. From day one, at the (sound of) the courthouse bell, I knew it was time to get to work. When you were here, it was time to work,” Blodgett said.
“You could tell Jamie was (proud) of being a Norwalk firefighter. … Jamie was very big at professionalism and tradition,” he added.
Starcher, who was unavailable for comment, earned the local honor of being named the firefighter of the year during his 23-year career.
“He made you better every day. He led by example from the inside out,” Soisson said.