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Government & Politics

Akron Fire Department Gets a New Leader

Dan Horrigan and Clarence Tucker
Tim Rudell
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WKSU
Mayor Dan Horrigan with New Fire Chief Clarence Tucker

Akron has a new fire chief, the 19th in the 180-year history of the fire department.  It was a hire from within that Mayor Dan Horrigan says will help maintain continuity, stability and a commitment to community for one of the city’s most important services. 

In 1988, Clarence Tucker walked into Akron Fire Station No. 7 for his first day as a firefighter medic.  This week he walked into the same station to become chief of Akron’s 350 person Fire Department.

Firefighters gather at station number 7
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
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WKSU
Fellow firefighters gather for Clarence Tucker's swearing in

Mayor Dan Horrigan administered the oath of office to Tucker who will become the city’s second African American fire chief.  And he will be the first chief hired after the decade-long legal dispute between the city and firefighters over promotion policy was settled last year.

Tucker emerged as the top candidate after a two-month search and is an inside hire. The mayor says that, along with the settlement, can help the fire department move on.

“I think they were doing a lot of provisional appointments and things like that, temporary appointments of lieutenants and captain. But now, we have been able to do some promotions this year, permanent ones. And I think this provides stability.”

Akron fire station number 7
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
/
WKSU
Fire station number 7, where Clarence Tucker began his career

Tucker has definite ideas about how he’s going to start his new job.

“The first thing I want to accomplish is to ensure that we continue to treat the citizens of Akron with dignity and respect as we go on our emergency runs.

"And (I want) to enhance our community services.  There’s a lot of things that we do already.  But there are a lot of things that we can add to try to help the community out.”

The new chief -- who officially takes office Monday says, one of those can literally be a matter of life and death.

“One such initiative is smoke detectors that we have been working with the Red Cross to get out to citizens that are unable to afford them. And those smoke detectors really do save lives. And so, we don’t what the cost to be what determines if people live or die.  We want to get those smoke alarms in the homes.”

Clarence Tucker is replacing Chief Edward Hiltbrand, who retired earlier this year.