The final three
The search for the next Fort Dodge fire chief is now focused on three veteran firefighters, including a city Fire Department captain.
The finalists for the job are Michael Heim, the fire chief in West Burlington; Capt. Steve Hergenreter of the Fort Dodge Fire Department; and Kent Hulett, who was most recently the chief of the Chippewa Fire District in Lake Hallis, Wis.
The three were introduced to City Council members Wednesday evening during a reception at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, 920 Third Ave. S.
One of them will replace Fire Chief David Luers, who will retire by the end of July.
The finalists were interviewed Wednesday by three panels. One panel consisted of six city firefighters. Another consisted of Assistant Fire Chief Woody Wolfe, Marshalltown Fire Chief Steve Edwards and Mason City Fire Chief Bob Platts. The third group was made up of City Manager David Fierke; Jim Vollmer, the city’s human resources director; Police Chief Tim Carmody and some other city officials.
Fierke will pick one of the three finalists and submit their name to the City Council for approval. He said Wednesday evening that he did not know when he would make his selection.
Heim has 35 years of fire service experience. He began his career with Fire District No. 2 in Johnson County, Kan. He then served as a firefighter in Garden City, Kan. Heim next served as the deputy state fire marshal in Kansas for eight years.
In West Burlington, he leads a 33-member department that has 15 paid firefighters and 18 volunteers.
Heim has three bachelor’s degrees from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. One is in general studies, one is in fire administration and one is in fire prevention technology. He has trained at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., and is certified as a fire officer, fire marshal and fire protection specialist.
He said he became interested in the Fort Dodge position because he wants to lead a department staffed with full-time personnel instead of a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters.
Hergenreter has lived in Fort Dodge for most of his life and is a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High. He began working as a city firefighter on March 7, 1989.
He is certified as a firefighter II, emergency medical technician (intermediate), hazardous materials technician, fire instructor and fire officer.
He was the coordinator of the regional hazardous materials team operated by the Fire Department for three years. He was promoted to captain in 2000.
Hergenreter has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from Columbia Southern University, an online institution based in Orange Beach, Ala. He also studied at Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista University.
He was a member of a panel that interviewed the finalists for the chief’s job when Luers was hired in 2010. That experience, combined with his increasing level of fire service training, got him interested in applying for the chief’s job, he said.
Hulett is currently working part time, handling building permits and fire protection issues for the city of Belvidere, Ill. He retired in June 2012 as the chief of the Chippewa Fire District.
His fire service career began more than 38 years ago with short stints with fire departments in Lisle-Woodridge and Carol Stream, both in Illinois. He then worked for 29 years as a firefighter in Rockford, Ill. He retired from there with the rank of captain.
He then returned to the fire service as chief in Lincoln, Ill. He worked there for almost three years before going to Chippewa.
Hulett has an associate’s degree from Rock Valley College in Rockford. He is certified as a fire inspector, fire investigator and fire department officer. He has attended the National Fire Academy, and was a paramedic for 14 years.