Lincoln Fire Fighters Help Select New Fire Chief

July 28 • 2016

The City of Lincoln, Nebraska, has a new fire chief after an exhaustive search. Long searches for fire chiefs may not be so unique, but having union members on the interview panel is.

“Our Lincoln Local 644 leadership has worked hard to have a seat at the table when decisions about their future are being made,” says IAFF 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright. “I am proud of their dedication to their members and public safety.”

New Fire Chief Micheal Despain officially took his new position on July 18 after serving as fire chief in Clovis, California, for the past four years. He also served Clovis as a Battalion Chief and Deputy Chief from 2003 to 2006 and Deputy Fire Chief and Interim Chief for the City of Fresno, California, from 2006 to 2012.

“The fire chief and Local 644 must work together to keep fire fighters safe so that they can serve the community effectively,” says President of Lincoln Local 644 Ron Trouba. “That is why it was important to select a candidate that values that labor-management relationship. And because of our involvement in the selection process, I believe we accomplished that.”

In May 2015, then Fire Chief John Huff retired after serving in the position for four years. Battalion Chief Tim Linke, a member of Lincoln Local 644, was appointed the Interim Fire Chief while the City administration searched for a new chief.

Battalion Chief Tim Linke has served as Interim Fire Chief since the retirement of John Huff in June 2015 but did not apply for the permanent position.

To assist in the search for a new fire chief, the City administration hired Prothman Group. From the beginning, the group made it a point to include Local 644 in the process.

“They gave us a place on the interview panel and we were asked to submit our opinion on who would be best for the position once the interviews were complete,” says Trouba. “We were given a voice and we took that very seriously.”

Once the list of candidates was developed, Trouba and Local 644 Secretary Gary Bruns traveled to every city to get a meet the candidates and to speak with each department’s IAFF members.

“In every city, our brothers and sisters were very helpful. They provided us with the facts about all of the candidates, the pros and cons,” says Trouba.

Once the interview was over, all members of the interview panel conferred before making the final decision to offer the position to Despain.