Jensen retires after 3 decades with fire dept.


For more than three decades, Lt. Tim Jensen has served the Liberty Township and Powell communities as part of the Liberty Township Fire Department (LTFD). Now, he’s ready to move on to the next chapter in his life after announcing his retirement.

Jensen served his last day on Feb. 3, bringing to an end a 33-year career with the LTFD that dates back to the start of the department’s first year as a full-time station. Following former Fire Chief John Bernans’ hire in 1989 as the first full-time chief in Liberty Township, Jensen became one of the first four firefighters hired in the department a year later.

Prior to joining the LFTD, Jensen served as a volunteer firefighter in Hilliar Township and Centerburg in Knox County.

Becoming a firefighter was never part of the grand plan for his future, Jensen said. Rather, the job began to take hold of him naturally as he gained exposure to the field. After moving to Centerburg during his junior year of high school, Jensen began hanging around the local firehouse with a friend, and a future career in fire and EMS was set in motion.

“I just got hooked with the sirens and all that,” Jensen told The Gazette. “It was EMS as well, so I was fire-based EMS, which was a real eye-opener. EMS was really just starting to take off. It was just a lot of cool factor for a kid who was just looking for something to do. … I just kind of gravitated to it.”

Starting as a volunteer firefighter in a small Knox County community gave Jensen an appreciation for connecting with the people he served, he said, which ultimately led to the appeal of joining the LTFD in 1990.

“When I started, the community, which was the village of Powell and the township, were just over 6,000 people. … Sawmill Parkway didn’t exist,” he said. “The only school in the township was Wyandot Run Elementary. It’s been neat. As opposed to going to Columbus or a metro department, it was neat for me because I was always interested in the planning aspect and the building for the future sort of thing.”

Jensen added, “Some people want the bright lights of a metro department where it’s busy, busy, busy, and I liked being able to step out the door and wave at somebody and know them. Sometimes the flip side of the coin, especially in a small volunteer community, is you know some of the people you run on. And that can be a little rough. Not every run is successful. It comes with the good and the bad. But that’s why I stayed (with the LTFD) and enjoyed my time there.”

During his time with the LTFD, Jensen worked his way up the ladder to the assistant fire chief position under Bernans, a role he held until 2009 when Bernans retired. Jensen was then promoted to serve as the next fire chief and held the title until 2016 before allegations of misconduct and malfeasance led to a suspension and subsequent litigation to decide his future in the department.

Ultimately, Jensen and the township agreed to a demotion that kept him in the department. Jensen said he had “unfinished business” with the department that kept him going, particularly with regard to the department earning accreditation through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

Jensen, with the help of recently-retired Fire Chief Tom O’Brien, went to work as the manager of the accreditation process and secured the prestigious status last August. “That was always kind of a foundation of mine, and to leave the department with that sticker on the side of the truck was a very proud moment,” he said.

With a sense of closure having been provided for one of his longest-standing goals, Jensen had reached a point in his career where he was ready to walk away.

“When that happened back in August, I knew I was done,” he said. “That was what I really wanted to accomplish, and I was just thrilled to get it done. … It’s still a very small group of departments, both in the United States and internationally, that have been able to become an accredited agency. I feel that leaving the community now, the department is in very good hands with the new fire chief and some of the guys who are taking over the accreditation stuff.”

Jensen, who turned 60 years old in January, referenced “a cumulation” of additional factors that also played a role in his decision.

“I have been kicking around fire stations for four years,” he said. “Our first grandchild was born around Thanksgiving. And the profession, itself, not that I was riding trucks for this part of my career, it kind of lends itself to younger folks. I think that’s what kept me going for so long. I enjoy working out with the guys, and it gave me a reason to go in and stay fit. And it’s a family.”

He went on to say, “But it was just time. It was time to do some things with my wife, our grandchild. I enjoy motorsports, so I’m looking for some adventures there. And while I still have the health and those sorts of things, now’s a good time to take advantage of it.”

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