By Collin Lueck
Newly-appointed Merrill Fire Chief Josh Klug will start his new job on Monday, May 21. While his title may be new, Klug is no stranger to the Merrill Fire Department, having started his career in Merrill 16 years ago.
Klug is a Merrill High School graduate and served 11 years with the Merrill Fire Department. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fire & Emergency Response Management from UW-Oshkosh. From 2013-2016, he served as Fire Chief in Mosinee, and from 2016 until present, he’s been the Deputy Fire Chief in Wausau.
“When I left (Merrill Fire Department) five years ago, I had never envisioned leaving,” he said, “but circumstances and things changed and opportunities presented themselves. I decided to make the best of them and go for it.”
After leaving Merrill, Josh and his family moved to Mosinee five years ago to be part of the community he would serve as fire chief.
“Especially in small towns, I think it’s a good idea to live and work in those areas,” he said.
Josh got involved in the Mosinee community and continues to honor some commitments there. He still meets with his “little sister” in Mosinee through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. It’s a program that specifically seeks out firefighters and police officers for the role of “bigs.”
“Kids in the program are really looking for a stable, positive role model in their life,” he said.
As a Merrill firefighter, Josh followed in the footsteps of his father, Robert Klug, who retired as a lieutenant in 2000, after 30 years with the Merrill Fire Department.
While firefighting has always been in his blood, Josh came to his career in a roundabout way. After tearing an ACL playing high school football, Josh decided he wanted to be a physical therapist. But after one semester of college, the pull of the fire service drew him to change his focus. He enrolled in the fire program at Fox Valley Technical College and joined the Merrill Fire Department in 2002.
Klug is married with three children and coaches youth baseball, softball, wrestling and flag football. He is an elder of St. John Lutheran Church in Merrill and exhibits a strong passion for his home community.
The Klugs still owned their home in Merrill, so when Josh took the job with the Wausau Fire Department they welcomed the opportunity to move back home to Merrill.