The Liberty Township Board of Trustees announced the promotions and hiring of individuals taking on leadership positions within the Liberty Township Fire Department (LTFD) at their Board of Trustees meeting on May 15. Chad Canupp, Jason Knollman and Robert Morton are being named Battalion Chiefs for the LTFD. John King, Matthew Knollman and James Watkins are being promoted to Captains of the department while Chris Oakes and Scott Schmits will become new Lieutenants.
When the Liberty Township Board of Trustees appointed Ethan Klussman as Fire Chief last September, they asked their new Chief to evaluate the department and bring ideas related to building leadership and developing an organizational structure for the future of the Liberty Township Fire Department. Chief Klussman spent his first six months learning about the community, getting to know the members of the department, and evaluating needs in order to best serve the Township’s residents and businesses. His work culminated in the rollout of a new organizational structure which adds a new level of leadership to the department and establishes a path to develop future leaders and help with succession planning. The LTFD will go from nine line officers and an administrative captain to nine line officers, an administrative captain and three command staff positions. Two personnel will be added in total bringing the LTFD to 38 full-time members from the current 36 positions.
Canupp and Knollman are being promoted from Lieutenants within the LTFD to the new Battalion Chief role. Canupp has served as a Lieutenant for more than five years and has been a career member of the department for nearly 14 years. He also works as a firefighter/EMT-Paramedic with Fairfield Township and is a tactical medic for Butler County SWAT. Knollman has been a career member of the department for more than 14 years, serving as Lieutenant for the last seven. He is also a rescue team manager for the Butler County Technical Rescue team and a rescue specialist for Ohio Task Force One. Morton is joining the LTFD from Plain Township Fire & Rescue in northern Ohio where he’s climbed the ranks from a volunteer role to Captain over the last 19 years. He spent 5 years serving as a Lieutenant before being promoted to Captain last January. Morton has also served as a fire and Assistant EMS Instructor at Stark State College in North Canton.
In addition, three other current Lieutenants are being promoted to Captain to serve alongside current Captain James Limerick. John King has been a member of the LTFD for 21 years serving as Lieutenant the last 11 years. He also serves as a Captain for Fairfield Township Fire Department. Matthew Knollman has been a member of the LTFD for 14 years serving as Lieutenant for the last year. He is also a member of the Butler County Technical Rescue Team and is an instructor at Scarlet Oaks and Butler Tech. James Watkins has been a member of the LTFD for 17 years, serving as Lieutenant the last 11 years. He is also a firefighter/medic for Milford Community Fire Department and is an instructor at Great Oaks Career Campuses.
To fill the Lieutenant vacancies, two other current members of the department are being promoted. Chris Oakes has been a member of the LTFD for 12 years, starting as a part-time member until being promoted to a career member 10 years ago. He’s worked at three other local departments during his fire service career. Scott Schmits has 16 years of fire service experience, the last 10 serving as a career member of LTFD. He’s also served 10 years with the Butler County Technical Rescue Team and is an instructor at Scarlett Oaks.
“As a Board, we asked Chief Klussman to utilize his expertise and his experience to develop a future path for the Liberty Township Fire Department. We’re very pleased with the initiative and commitment to excellence that he’s exhibited. There’s no doubt in my mind, our community is in great hands with Chief Klussman and his new leadership team serving our residents and businesses,” said Tom Farrell, President, Liberty Township Trustees.
The Battalion Chief process started in March. The candidates completed an employment application, interview, leadership assessment and a physical ability test.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Battalion Chiefs and Captains as we develop and strengthen the LTFD and lead our dedicated team into the future. It’s an exciting time for the department and the Liberty Township community we’re serving. I’m grateful for the dedication, passion and professionalism demonstrated through the process and can’t wait to work with these great leaders,” said Chief Klussman.
The official pinning ceremony for the new Battalion Chiefs, Captains and Lieutenants will take place on June 5 at 6 p.m. during the regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting at the Liberty Township Meeting Center (6400 Princeton Road).