Jackson Fire Chief Tracy Hogue ready for retirement

Patricia Faulhaber
Suburbanite correspondent
Jackson Fire Chief Tracy Hogue is set to retire on March 12.

JACKSON TWP. Fire Chief Tracy Hogue is preparing for another step in his career, a career he has wanted since a young age.

He is retiring effective March 12.

Hogue’s success started as a volunteer firefighter in 1976 before coming a paid firefighter/paramedic in 1985. From there, he was promoted to captain in 1997. He then became captain of the Fire Prevention Bureau in 2001 before he was appointed Fire Chief on March 12, 2011. He will be retiring exactly 10 years from the day he was appointed chief at 4:30 p.m. on March 12.

“My parents told me I wanted to be a firefighter from a young age and my retiring this year is a pension required retirement at my age,” wrote Hogue. “I decided to apply for the fire chief’s job after Fire Chief Ted Heck announced his retirement. I had worked under him for 35 years and felt I could keep the department running and continue to build and improve on the foundation he had established here.”

Jackson Township Fiscal Officer and Economic Development Director Randy Gonzalez said that Hogue has accomplished amazing things while he has been in the department.

“I’ve been here 30 years and Tracy is only the second fire chief I’ve worked with,” Gonzalez said. “He followed Chief Ted Heck which was a hard thing to do but Tracy has done it wonderfully.”

Gonzalez said that Hogue has excelled in the following areas:

• Service to the community where he has been out in the community and everyone knew he was the chief of the fire department.

• His strong relationships with the men and women of his department.

• Got everyone in the department involved with different duties such as contract negotiations, budgeting and other areas.

• Interaction with other fire chiefs around the county

• Was one of the first fire chiefs to encourage the county to go to a county-wide radio system

• Turned around all the equipment in the department to state-of-the-art. Has purchased ambulances and fire trucks from one vendor to ensure better servicing when needed.

“Tracy was a union president, and he has used that experience in contract negotiations," Gonzalez said. "We’ve had three since he became chief and they have gone calmly, and he helped keep them moving. He has been instrumental in getting levies passed and then made sure he spent the money on what he promised he would. He has involved others in the department in areas such as budgeting so that we would have a smooth transition with a new chief. He’s done an excellent job.”

Hogue thanks his family

“I would like to thank my family (children Kayla and Kyle) for their understanding of my fire service career and all the years when I missed holidays, birthdays, band and sporting events they were part of," Hogue said in an email. "I want to say thank you to my wife Paula for her understanding in 32 years of marriage she endured because the nature of being in the fire service and the hours away from home."

He has plenty of plans once he is retired, including taking a few months off. He also would like to find something that he would enjoy to do part time, as Hogue said, he’s not someone to sit around. Along with his wife, Paula, they have a camper in Holmes County and use it as a place to relax and get away. They have used the camper for weekend breaks from work and he hopes to use it more often after he retires.

“I am looking forward to not carrying with me and sleeping next to two cell phones and a fire department radio,” Hogue wrote.

Hogue has lived in the township since 1961 when his parents moved from Massillon to Jackson where he grew up on Easy Street and and graduated Jackson High School in 1976. From there, he went on to attend Stark State and Aultman Hospital’s paramedic program. He has also attended various fire and other related courses at the Ohio Fire Academy, FEMA, Ohio Arson School, Ohio Fire Chiefs Association and Texas A&M University.

Jackson Fire Chief Tracy Hogue receives the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in late December from Sherry Smith, nursing services director for the Stark County Health Department.

Career highlights, challenges and changes

“Being promoted to a first shift captain is one of my career highlights," Hogue said. "Then overseeing the fire prevention bureau and ultimately becoming fire chief are all highlights. Plus, keeping up with the continued growth of Jackson Township and providing the same service as the township grew. In 2020, the challenge has been and continues to be COVID-19. I never saw a pandemic coming in my career and the effects it would have on EMS service transports and the prevention of keeping all paramedics healthy and safe.”

Hogue also talked about some of the advancements in the field that have taken place in his time of service.

“A few of the changes for the better-include updating our radio system to the Ohio Statewide MARCS (Multi-agency radio communication system) radio system and primarily funding it by using federal grant money," he said. "This system gives the fire department interoperability locally and across the state with fire, hospitals, schools and police departments.

“We have converted the department from paper to electronic scheduling, mapping, reporting, 9-1-1 incident notification and apparatus daily checks. This is accomplished with Apple iPads on all medic units and all the fire apparatus. We soon will have 100 percent Sutphen fire apparatus after the delivery of the new engine No. 3 in 2022. Sutphen manufactures in Columbus. Being located in Columbus assists the fire and central maintenance departments with customer service, replacement parts and minimal down time for an emergency vehicle. We currently have a 100-foot tower, a heavy rescue and will have four engine/pumpers manufactured by the Sutphen Corporation. We added to all five fire stations positive improvements in the prevention of fighting cancer in the fire service.”

Special thanks to the community

“Over the last 10 years as chief, I have appreciated the support, cooperation and encouragement from the Board of Trustees, Fiscal officer and township administrator," Hogue said. "Plus, I also appreciate that the community’s support of the EMS and Fire service. I have enjoyed working, living and raising my family in the Jackson community."

Hogue leaves behind a first-class EMS and fire service that he assures the community will continue to be so into the future with a new leader.

“I’m sure the department will continue the tradition of providing a first-class EMS and fire service to the Jackson community because the residents are the customers – and they are the reason we are here and have the stations and equipment to perform our jobs. The fire department truly is blessed in Jackson,” Hogue said.

“Tracy and his wife Paula are looking at a new life in retirement," Gonzalez added. "I’m sure he will stay busy, but they are looking forward to doing some camping and enjoying the next phase.”