Officials recall former fire chief

Roger Hernon earned a Purple Heart in the Korean War.
WARREN -- It's with great reverence that friends and colleagues remember Roger Hernon.
Just ask the city's fire chief, Jay Mulligan, to recount memories of his friend and mentor, the one he says taught him so much about being a firefighter and an upstanding guy.
Hernon, 70, of York Street N.W., died Wednesday at Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital. The former fire chief and city councilman leaves his wife, Norma; nine sons; 18 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; three sisters; and a brother.
Lessons by example: Mulligan, who is on sick leave, said he learned a lot from Hernon, whom he called a good friend and family man who will be missed by many. "I can't even begin to calculate the amount of knowledge I gained from him over the years," Mulligan said. "Roger was an extremely fine man."
The chief said he learned a lot by watching the way Hernon dealt with the July 1981 house fire on Parkman Road that left six of his firefighters badly burned. Mulligan faced a similar situation this past New Year's Eve, when two firefighters were burned in the Williamsburg N.W. fire that killed a woman.
When a tornado ripped through Trumbull County in 1985, it was Hernon who was out, offering his assistance to those communities that were hit hardest, Mulligan said. "That's just the kind of guy he was."
Hernon was also involved in Habitat for Humanity and received a Purple Heart in the Korean War.
Mayor Hank Angelo knew Hernon for 20 years and was the city's safety service director for a time when Hernon was chief. Hernon lost to Angelo during the 1995 mayoral race and gave some thought to opposing him again in 1999.
"He was a very formidable opponent," Angelo said. "I looked at him always as a gentleman and a man of integrity."
Background: Hernon was hired as a Warren firefighter May 2, 1960, and was promoted to chief in September 1978. He retired in 1991.
Warren Fire Capt. Dan Suttles was hired in 1985 under Hernon. "He was a very insightful person and very intelligent," Suttles said, explaining that Hernon was a member of Mensa, an organization for people of high IQ.
Hernon believed in his job and made training a priority for his squads, Suttles said. He added that Hernon didn't let politics interfere with his job. Hernon served on city council from 1994 to 1995 and again from 1998 to 1999.
"He was the kind of guy who, if he gave you his word, you could count on it," said Councilman Dan Polivka, D-at large. Councilwoman Susan Hartman, D-7th, called him admirable, upfront and one of the most honest legislators she's known.
Services: Calling hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at McFarland and Son Funeral Services Co. on North Park Avenue. A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph's Church, North Street N.W., off Mahoning Avenue.