The first person I met from the Sedona Fire District was Fire Marshal Will Loesche.

I responded to a fire in Sedona Shadows on my first day as the Sedona Red Rock News’ city reporter to find Loesche leading a crew in the investigation of the fire’s cause.

I didn’t know what to expect, nor really what to do when I arrived on scene, but Loesche quickly filled me in regarding my role and provided detailed information for me to put in the newspaper.

I didn’t quite know it then, but later I would realize Loesche’s importance to not only the SFD, but the safety of the community.

Sadly, Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek loses Loesche’s expertise today, Friday, April 15.

Loesche resigned from his 17-year post of fire marshal to accept a job with the Golder Ranch Fire District in Oro Valley.

While learning the ropes of my new job, I quickly realized where Loesche fit into the picture.

His job as fire marshal differed from that of a firefighter.

Rather than responding when fire breaks out, a fire marshal’s job is to prevent the fire from occurring in the first place and promote a preventive approach to fire safety. For 17 years, he’s done a very good job.

Loesche always told me during interviews his job was to keep people safe and err on the side of caution, and it may mean less work for the firefighters but that’s his job, and he did that job very well.

Loesche started at SFD on Jan. 4, 1994, after working for the Arizona State Fire Marshal’s Office. He covered Northern Arizona from the Prescott office.

His career in fire service, however, started when he was a young man.

Loesche joined his local fire department as a volunteer in 1973 shortly after graduating from high school and become a paid firefighter in 1975.

He then switched gears in 1980 after being injured in a building collapse. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Haven, in Connecticut, in 1984 and became a fire marshal.

In 1985, Loesche moved to Arizona to work for the state department before making his way to Sedona.

Now, in 2011, Loesche leaves SFD for another new adventure. While we hate to see him go, we understand and wish him the best.