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Fire Advisory Board hears update on Brainerd fire chief position

The Fire Advisory Board met Wednesday - the first time since Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek announced his retirement. Stunek's last working day was April 17. On the agenda, "Retirement of Fire Chief Kevin Stunek and introduction of the interim ...

The Fire Advisory Board met Wednesday - the first time since Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek announced his retirement.

Stunek's last working day was April 17.

On the agenda, "Retirement of Fire Chief Kevin Stunek and introduction of the interim fire chief," board members noticed Stunek was not present and asked where Crosslake Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller was so the introduction could occur. Lohmiller was authorized to serve as interim chief on a temporary basis earlier this month by the Brainerd Civil Service Commission.

Brainerd City Administrator Patrick Wussow said Lohmiller is being paid by the hour so the city wanted him to utilize his time with getting to know the officers and operations of the Brainerd Fire Department. Wussow said they also thought it wouldn't be appropriate if Lohmiller was at the meeting as he has the option to apply for the full-time fire chief position.

Wussow updated the board on the interim fire chief position and where the city is at on hiring a full-time fire chief. He said testing for the interim position will be held and the commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the conference room at Brainerd City Hall to discuss the interim position.

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Wussow said the city has advertised for the full-time fire chief position and they hope to have a new fire chief by July 1. The commission, consisting of three members, has the hiring authority and will create an interviewing committee, said Wussow.

Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle suggested the interview committee should have at least one person from the fire advisory board. Wussow agreed.

In other fire advisory business,

• The board agreed to make a recommendation to the Brainerd City Council to purchase three Apple Air iPads for the fire department. The total expenditures for the technology is $1,300 for the iPads, $2,000 for installing them; and $140 in monthly service fees.

The iPads will be used for the Active 911 paging system currently used by the fire department. The technology will allow more consistent response, mapping for the drivers, satellite imagery, hydrant location and will let the firefighters know who is responding to a fire.

• Learned from the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association that a former full-time firefighter was approved for "in line of duty disability." This means the city is required by state law to continue to be responsible for the employer's portion of health insurance on the same basis as negotiated for active fire equipment operators until the firefighter reached the age of 65.

• Heard the Brainerd Fire Department responded to 125 emergency calls from January through March. The total property damage loss is $1,495,400. Compared to the same time period, last year they had 120 calls and $564,250 in damages.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

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