Liberty appoints new fire chief



A lieutenant in the Liberty Township Fire Department is going to become the department’s new chief.

Gus Birch, who has been with the department for 19 years, will be appointed officially at a trustee meeting May 12.

Birch, 56, is a Vienna resident.

Before he came to Liberty’s department, he was EMS chief in Vienna.

Trustees chose him from six applicants within the department.

He will replace Chief Michael Durkin, 55, who is retiring May 13.

Birch said he doesn’t see a need to change much in the department and that Durkin has done a great job.

He said he looks forward to guiding younger firefighters.

“It’s something you always work for as a fireman,” he said. “You get older, you learn more.”

Durkin said he does not want to comment. “I don’t want it to be about me,” he said.

He said he’s spent 37 years in the fire service, 12 of them with the Liberty department.

Durkin was paid $71,000 a year, but that was before firefighters got a raise in their latest contract, said township administrator Pat Ungaro.

He said Birch will make $75,000 in a one-year contract.

The Liberty department has 16 full-time firefighters, including the chief; 18 part-time firefighters and five volunteers.

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