Merrill Fire Department announces staff changes
With the recent retirement of long time Deputy Fire Chief Ken Smrecek, the Merrill Fire Department welcomes new firefighter/paramedic Joshua Grovogel to the fire /EMS staff. Josh comes back home to Merrill, after most recently working in the ER at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. He is a state certified EMT-Paramedic, along with being a state certified firefighter. Along with his work in the Emergency department at Aspirus, Josh’s previous experience includes working for the Schofield Fire Department, as both an EMT/Firefighter. Firefighter Grovogel is a graduate of Merrill High School. He is married to wife Laura.
Merrill Fire Chief Bob Odegard was pleased with the quality of many of the applicants who applied for the recent position opening within the Merrill Department, he commented “I’m happy to see a local kid leave Merrill to go work hard in school obtaining all the necessary qualifications for fire/EMS, then return back to his home roots, to serve his community. The qualifications and training needed now days to just apply for this type of work is extensive and very time consuming, it takes a special person.” “Replacing Smrecek will not be easy because he had over 30 years experience,” adds Chief Odegard, “but what Josh lacks in experience, he makes up for with being a Paramedic, every new employee we hire in the future is critical because we have added the qualification of paramedic for all of our new hires, which continues to raise the department’s level of care on the ambulances.”
Lt. Robert Akey has been recently promoted to the position of Captain within Merrill’s Fire Department as well, due to the recent retirement of DC Smrecek. Bob fills the position of a shift commander replacing the last Deputy Chief position that was occupied by Smrecek. With the reorganization back in 2008 within the Fire Department, all shift commanders are led by Captains now replacing the position of Deputy Chief. According to Chief Odegard, “the department is fortunate to have an employee like Bob to fill such a vital role within our department.” Akey brings 23 years of fire and EMS experience with him to the position of Captain. “I believe the transition for Lt. Akey to the position of captain will be a very smooth one as he commands the shift, both from a personnel standpoint and tactics,” adds Odegard. Akey has been a lifelong area resident and is married to wife Karen, they have two sons David and Joe.
The Merrill Fire Department is pleased to announce that firefighter/paramedic Joshua Klug has been promoted to the position of Lieutenant. The Lieutenant position was opened with the promotion of Akey to a Captain. Klug is only an 8-year veteran with the department, however, what he may lack in experience he more than makes up for with his passion for the fire service, EMS and the Merrill community and education. Including an Associates degree in fire science from Fox Valley Technical College, Klug completed Paramedic training in 2007, he is also a state of Wisconsin certified fire instructor, teaching new firefighters at the local technical colleges. Currently he is taking classes through the UW-Oshkosh to complete a degree in Fire Management. Though, Josh has been working as a firefighter /EMT in Merrill for 8 years, he is very familiar with the department, its stations and procedures as he is a 2nd generation firefighter following in the footsteps of his father, Robert Klug, who retired from the Fire Department as a Lieutenant. Josh is married to wife Megan, they have a son Noah and daughter Kendall.