New leaders take the helm at Sycamore fire

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Tim Riedel (left) is assistant EMS chief, Danny Leeth (center) is assistant fire chief and Rodney Clinger is chief of Sycamore Fire and Rescue.

SYCAMORE — Long-time crew members have taken on new roles for Sycamore Fire and Rescue.

Rodney Clinger, who most recently had served as assistant fire chief, is the new chief.

Danny Leeth, who had served as a captain, was promoted to assistant fire chief, and Tim Riedel maintained his position as assistant EMS chief.

Clinger is following in the footsteps of his father, Jerry, who had served as the chief of the department for more than 17 years. Jerry retired after more than 50 years of service.

Clinger said he was at the previous station at the village offices a lot as a child.

“(I) learned a lot,” he said.

Clinger and Riedel, who are cousins, joined the department in 1988.

Clinger said he took the EMS class in the spring of his senior year at Mohawk High School. He finished the training shortly after graduation.

“Then, we took the fire class,” he said.

Clinger became a firefighter in the fall of 1988 and has spent 28 years with Sycamore Fire and Rescue.

He moved up through the ranks, serving as lieutenant, captain and assistant fire chief. He was named chief of the department upon the resignation of Bryan Clouse.

Clinger said it had been a smooth transition. He said the assistant chiefs have worked hard and made his transition manageable.

Riedel had served as a fire lieutenant and captain before switching his focus to EMS and serving as the assistant EMS chief.

He took a firefighting class in 1988 and an EMS class in 1989, after graduating from college. Jerry, his uncle, got him on the department.

Leeth joined the department in 2000.

He recalled driving around the tire fire in Kirby before being on the department and said he could not have felt any more useless. He said he wanted to help.

He took a firefighting class and then an EMS class, and spent six years as an emergency medical technician. He served as a fire lieutenant and captain.

Clinger said he always had a lot of respect for his dad, and he was amazed at how calm his father was when he pulled together firefighting operations for the tire fire.

Sycamore Fire and Rescue had around-the-clock presence at the site for three days, and it burned for months. Twenty-one departments and the National Guard assisted, officials said.

Clinger said his dad had a lot of good officers.

“That (fire) was one of my ‘wow’ moments,” he said.

Clinger said recruiting is a big issue officials are working hard at now. Sycamore Fire and Rescue has 32 members and at least six probationary members.

The EMS department has had more than 200 calls this year, and the fire department has had about 100.

The department provides service in five townships and one village in three counties.

Riedel expressed appreciation for the support of the village council.