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Fire chief remembered for dedication

May 31, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Robert Tieche, 63, passed away suddenly on Saturday after being rushed to the hospital with abdominal pains. The loss is a great one for Canfield and one that has brought memories of all the good things he has accomplished in his life that will continue into the future.

“What do you say about a fire chief whose been here for 28 years?” said Assistant Chief Don Hutchison. “He was the main force in getting paramedics on our trucks and in the creation of the fire district.”

Tieche began his career when he was appointed to the rank of volunteer in September 1971. In a short 12 years, he rose through the ranks and became fire chief of the Canfield Fire Department in March of 1983. As chief, Tieche focused on serving the residents of Canfield city and township.

In his 28 years of service, Tieche had seen a number of changes take place, mostly through his leadership and efforts. Prior to the formation of a fire district, Canfield had a city fire department supported by the township. Tieche encouraged the formation of a fire district to combine the city and township into one. Placed before voters, approval was given and the district was formed and continues, providing much more in service than it did when Tieche first joined. Tieche was appointed on January 1, 1990 to serve as chief of the new Cardinal Joint Fire District.

One thing that could be said about Tieche was the concern he had not only in his duties, but the concern he had for all people.

“His number one concern was that anyone who came into Canfield, whether it was the city on the Fourth of July, or the Canfield Fairgrounds, he was here to protect them,” Hutchison said. “He wanted to make sure they got home safe.”

As chief, Tieche not only had to be concerned about the city and township, but also about the Canfield Fair. In a 2008 interview, Tieche stated, “The fair is a separate and independent area. It’s a city by itself.”

As the chief in Canfield, the six-day fair falls under his jurisdiction and Tieche said in the interview that first year was a tough one.

"My first year as chief was a disaster,” Tieche stated in the interview. “I had to come up with enough portable radios to issue to all the departments that show up.”

He eventually did solve the radio problem and was instrumental in bringing the golf cart rescue vehicles that now make it easy for fair emergency teams to reach people inside the fairgrounds.

The improvements he made for the fair didn’t go unnoticed. In 2008, the Canfield Fair Board honored him for 25 years of service. The nomination was given by a close friend, Austintown’s fire Chief Andrew Frost.

“I try to honor someone at our luncheon who has done a lot for our fair,” said Frost, who is in charge of the fair’s emergency services. “I think people, every once in a while, need to know they are appreciated.”

Tieche was more than just another fire chief to Frost.

“He was my buddy,” Frost said. “We were dear friends and I am going to miss him a lot.”

Frost said Tieche contacted him back in the mid 1980s with an idea to bring all the fire chiefs in Mahoning Valley together to help one another. Along with Frost and Harold Milligan from the Struthers Fire Department, the Mahoning Valley Fire Chief’s Association was born.

“It was all Bob’s idea,” Frost said.

Tieche also belonged to the Ohio Fire Chief's Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“He was extremely knowledgeable about fire fighting, firefighting techniques and managing a department,” Fire Board Chairman Andy Skrobola said. “He devoted his life to making the fire department what it is today.”

On Friday, Tieche responded to Station One on Lisbon Street as the squad headed out to the Ohio Turnpike on a call. Hutchison said he actually met the truck, which was a pumper, as the crew refilled the on-board tank from a fire hydrant at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Later that day, Hutchinson said, he was rushed to the hospital with pain in his abdomen that was diagnosed as internal bleeding.

He was loved by many, respected by all, and will forever be held in high respect for what he has brought to the fire service both in Canfield as well as the Mahoning Valley.

Services for Chief Frost will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Canfield United Methodist Church. Calling hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Lane Funeral Home's Canfield Chapel. He will be interred at Canfield Village Cemetery. He leaves behind his wife, Debra, two children and five grandchildren.

Article Photos

Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Robert Tieche



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