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Student Spotlight

Focus on Alumni

Focus on Alumni

Spring 2009

Mar 16, 2009

Q&A with Hilbert native Tim Franz, Chief of the Oshkosh Fire Department.


When did you attend FVTC?

I attended from 1981 through 1983 and earned my associate degree in the Fire Protection Technician program. I enrolled again in 1985 to receive paramedic training.

Why did you choose FVTC?

I wanted to be a firefighter/paramedic since I was an early teen. My influencers were my father, who was chief of the volunteer fire department in Hilbert, and my brother, who was also a volunteer firefighter. When FVTC coordinated a live fire training session, my brother invited me along to observe. He introduced me to David McFadden, who was the coordinator of the fire program at the time. After my discussions with Mr. McFadden, I was convinced that FVTC was the place I needed to go to start a career as a firefighter.

What does a typical work week look like?

It’s a little different now than when I started as a firefighter, because those were 24-hour shifts. I now work daytime hours Monday through Friday, but evening events such as city council meetings can extend my days. I also respond to major problems and emergencies on nights and weekends. I occasionally fill in for battalion chiefs when they’re on vacation; that’s a 24-hour shift while I’m also serving in my capacity as fire chief.

What are your responsibilities as fire chief?

It’s a broad range, everything from personnel and budgeting to planning and developing the policies for the department. I also meet with the public regularly and serve as the incident commander at major city emergencies. Each day is different; there is no set schedule, which is one of the things I like about the job.

How did you come to be fire chief?

When I graduated from FVTC, I didn’t have the intention of being a fire chief one day. But as I worked my way up through the ranks of the department, my interest in this career and in fire service just grew stronger. Early on, I began collecting ideas on how I thought things could be done better, and I hoped someday to be in a position where I could make those changes happen. After graduating from FVTC I continued my education at the University of Cincinnati and at the National Fire Academy. My career continued to evolve. I was honored to be named fire chief in June 2000.

What challenges do you face on your job?

Like everyone else in the government, we’re dealing with fiscal issues. In the business world the demand for services may be down, but the demand for our services is increasing. But with tax revenues going down or being held flat because of state levy limits, it’s getting more difficult to fund those services. The increased demand is largely due to demographic reasons, primarily related to emergency medical services because our population is growing and aging while health care is changing.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife, Jennifer, and I have three daughters who are 20, 17, and 14. I also like working in my workshop and gardening. In the summer, I’m on a pit crew for a stock car racing team with my cousins at Wisconsin International Raceway.