Hulett named new FD fire chief

An Illinois man with more than 38 years of fire service experience has been nominated by City Manager David Fierke to become the next Fort Dodge fire chief.

Kent Hulett was introduced Friday afternoon as the candidate to replace retiring Fire Chief David Luers.

”Kent’s experience is very substantial,” Fierke said. ”His experience really ties in well with what we’re doing with the Fire Department and where we’re going.”

Fierke will submit Hulett’s nomination for City Council approval during the governing body’s June 10 meeting. If the council approves him, the new fire chief will start on the job the next day.

His starting salary will be about $78,000, according to Fierke.

Hulett said training of younger firefighters will be a priority for him. He added that he doesn’t plan to make immediate changes in the department.

”My style isn’t we’re going to change this overnight,” he said.

”I’d like this to be the final stop in my career and be here for five to seven years,” Hulett said.

He said he wants to do enough mentoring and training to ensure that his eventual successor as chief comes from within the department.

The other remaining candidate for the job was from within the department. However, Capt. Steve Hergenreter withdrew from consideration, citing concerns about how taking the chief’s job would impact his young family, according to Fierke.

”The timing, for my personal considerations, was just a concern of mine,” Hergenreter said. ”It was a hard decision.”

”I really love my job as a shift commander,” he added. ”I love the operational side and I look forward to working with Kent.”

Fierke said having both Hulett and Hergenreter in the Fire Department will be a positive development. He said Hergenreter is ”going to be an asset for Kent and I think Kent is going to be a great mentor for him.”

Hulett’s career began with short stints with fire departments in the Illnois communities of Lisle-Woodridge and Carol Stream. He then worked for 29 years as a firefighter in Rockford, Ill. He retired from there with the rank of captain.

He next became the fire chief in Lincoln, Ill. He worked there for about three years before becoming chief of the Chippewa Fire District in Lake Hallis, Wis. He left that position in June 2012 to care for his elderly father.

He most recently worked part-time on building permit and fire protection issues for the city of Belvidere, Ill.

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 in Emmitsburg, Md., and was a paramedic for 14 years.

Luers has been the fire chief since Aug. 1, 2010. He has about 36 years of experience, mostly in Burlington where he worked until coming to Fort Dodge to take the chief’s position.