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New Huron River fire chief 'looking forward to the challenge'

Cary Ashby • Jan 8, 2018 at 4:00 AM

MONROEVILLE — Curt Stang has taken a new step in his firefighting career. 

The 1985 Monroeville High School graduate started as the chief of the Huron River Joint Fire District effective Jan. 1.

“It’s an honor to be selected to the position like this,” said Stang, who was chosen by the fire board. “It’s going to be a learning curve, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Being a chief initially wasn’t on his radar early in his career, but he said he gained interest as time progressed. 

While serving as chief, Stang will continue working his full-time job at the Norwalk Fire Department. In 1991, then-Mayor Tom Cochran hired Stang, who earned a promotion to lieutenant in May 2016.

“He has been a leader in this department for years. He’s a good firefighter and a good leader,” Norwalk Fire Chief John Soisson said. 

Soisson praised Stang for his “good common sense” and is grateful for having Stang at any fire scene.

“He’s our No. 1 guy on the CAD system,” Soisson said, referring to the computer-aided dispatch system that Huron County implemented four to five years ago. “He is one of the go-to guys in the county for that and in Norwalk.”

Stang served on the county CAD steering committee. More recently, he was on the planning committee for the new Norwalk fire station and was instrumental in helping the city add two trucks to the department fleet.

In 2016, Stang was named the Huron River firefighter of the year — in his first year of eligibility. He had served as a volunteer firefighter for the department since February 2013.

“It’s a great group of guys to work with,” said Stang, who turns 51 Tuesday and hopes to learn from his fellow firefighters. 

Stang replaces Tom Beck, whose career lasted 41 years and was a fourth-generation chief in Monroeville. 

“Curt Stang got promoted by the fire board,” said Beck, 59, who was the chief for nearly eight years. “I followed my dad’s footsteps into the fire service. I was honored to serve with my dad for 7 1/2 years before he resigned. It was an honor to follow my family footsteps.”

Soisson said he enjoyed his working relationship with Beck.

“Tom had a great career. … Tom was very easy for me to work with,” he added.

With Beck as the Huron River chief, Stang said he’s seen the relationship with Norwalk improve, the Huron River department has been “more forward-thinking” and there has been a progression in the way it operates.

“Tom has been great,” he added. “I hope I can take up where he left off and move (the department) forward.”

Stang, who was born in Fisher-Titus Medical Center, was raised in Monroeville and now lives outside of Norwalk.

Soisson praised Stang’s “natural leadership ability” and noted his extensive amount of firefighter training.

“He’s always been one of the go-to guys,” Soisson said. “The guys look up to him here (in Norwalk) because of his experience and knowledge.”

When asked about Stang being the Huron River fire chief and working at the Norwalk station, Soisson said “the advantages far outweigh the negatives.” The Huron River Joint Fire District covers the village of Monroeville and Peru, Ridgefield and Sherman townships.

“He’s no different that any other chief with a full-time job; when he’s at his job, he’s at his job. It’s not going to jeopardize his work here (in Norwalk),” Soisson said.

In fact, Soisson said the Norwalk crew has a great working relationship with Huron River and other nearby fire departments. He noted firefighters can learn from each other and solidify their response to emergencies.

“We are in a day and age where we need each other,” Soisson added.

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