Tom Yunker Jr. Named Monclova Assistant Fire Chief

Tom Yunker Jr. is the new assistant chief for Monclova Township Fire and Rescue. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Tom Yunker Jr. first walked into his local fire department 14 years ago, he had never taken a class on fire safety, and he didn’t come from a family of firefighters.

Yet as a 30-year-old with a desire to help his community, Yunker found his calling and turned it into a career.

“I found a passion for it and kept pursuing additional education and moving my way up,” said Yunker, who last month was named assistant fire chief of Monclova Township Fire and Rescue. The position has been open since Matt Homik was named chief in November 2023.

A West Toledo native and Start High School graduate, Yunker worked in funeral homes and as a contractor for the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, moving people from the hospital, nursing home or crime scene to the funeral home or coroner’s office. 

“Being able to handle certain situations came naturally because I’d been around it so long,” he said. “On almost every call, I had interactions with families. Some deaths were expected, and some were not, but you never know what the reaction will be.”

Joining Washington Township Fire and Rescue in 2010 opened the door to the other side of that experience – helping people out. As he dove into his role as a volunteer, Yunker began taking on as many educational opportunities as he could, earning his Fire 2 certification, then emergency medical technician (EMT), fire inspector license and paramedic certification. From there, he earned his Fire Officer 1, 2 and 3 certifications and other specialties – taking classes at night and on weekends.

“This industry changes so regularly that you have to constantly be educating yourself on it. Any opportunity to take the education, the better,” he said. “I don’t want to just stay here; I want to have that knowledge.”

While Yunker earned credits in business administration from The University of Toledo after high school, he is now pursuing his associate degree in emergency medical technology from Owens Community College. That will allow him to move to the next step: a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Bowling Green State University.

“For the leadership positions, that degree is much more needed. As departments grow and become more full time, that education is important. You learn to manage day-to-day operations and the different situations you will come across as a chief officer,” he said.

While he departed Washington Township, where he was an assistant chief, Yunker will continue to volunteer on weekends at the mostly rural Richfield Township department, which he joined three years ago. 

The mix of Washington Township’s mostly urban setting and Richfield Township’s rural areas will prepare him for Monclova Township – a growing community of nearly 16,000 residents with commercial, residential and farming areas. Monclova Township has about 2,500 calls a year in a 22-square-mile area.

“I’ve always heard good things about Monclova Township’s fire department, so when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to apply and see if I can help with that growth,” he said. “If you see me, say ‘hi.’”

This week, Yunker spent a few days doing 12-hour shifts with the crews to learn operations and equipment. Next week, he’ll be in the office doing “whatever the chief needs me to do.”

Married to Lisa for nearly 12 years, Yunker lives in Point Place and enjoys taking his boat out onto Lake Erie to fish and duck hunt.

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