Updated: Jim Larsen is Farmington's new fire chief
After four months of searching, the city of Farmington has found its first full-time fire chief.
City administrator David McKnight announced last week the city has hired United States Fire Academy instructor Jim Larsen for the job. The offer still depends on a background check and approval by the Farmington City Council. McKnight expects Larsen’s hiring to go to council members at their April 6 meeting.
Assuming everything checks out, Larson will start work in Farmington on April 27.
McKnight said of all the candidates who applied for the job he felt Larsen was the best equipped to make some of the changes firefighters have said they’re looking for.
“One of the things I got out of this whole process … is, they are looking for a number of changes in the department,” McKnight said. “That’s why they were in support of moving toward a full-time chief. They were pretty universal.”
McKnight heard from several firefighters both at an open house for Larsen and Troy Corrigan, the other finalist for the job, and in the days after. He didn’t specifically identify the changes firefighters want, but Corrigan said at the open house there needs to be more direction so firefighters better know their roles. McKnight said he heard similar comments.
“I think the full-time position will help (with that change),” McKnight said. “Jim has a big task ahead of him now: looking at the department, reviewing it, working with the firefighters to see what works.”
Larsen grew up in Illinois and said he knew early on he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. He recalls telling his grandmother at age 7 that’s what he wanted to do. He lived near the fire station, and he would ride his bike to the station every time he heard the alarm on the city’s water tower. He’d watch the fire trucks rolling out with sirens blaring and firefighters clinging to the sides.
Larsen got his first firefighter experience as a cadet and has worked in a number of volunteer and paid fire departments in the years since.
At last week’s open house, Larsen said one his first priorities if he was hired would be to bring back the city’s fire marshal position. The city cut that job when it made the decision to move to a full-time chief with the idea the new chief would decide how to handle the duties the fire marshal currently manages.
Larsen said between investigations, fire prevention and community education, fire marshal is an important position.
“I don’t see one person doing all of that,” he said. “We will save more lives and more properties with proper fire prevention and education.”
Larsen also said last week he plans to preserve the department’s rescue squad.
The new chief also wants to raise the department’s profile in the community. Through social media and other means, he wants to give people an opportunity to have contact with a firefighter outside of emergencies.