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Elvestad is Farmington's sole fire chief finalist

Farmington Acting Fire Chief Justin Elvestad is the sole finalist to fill the permanent role.

Elvestad will talk community members 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, in the City Hall chambers as part of the recruitment process.

Fire Chief Jim Larsen resigned Nov. 3 and the city appointed Elvestad, the assistant chief, as acting fire chief. After receiving 38 applications, a team then interviewed five people.

"We were hoping for three for a second round," City Administrator David McKnight said.

"We had one worth moving forward as a finalist," he added, referring to Elvestad.

Prior to the meet-and-greet event, Elvestad will take part in that second round.

Elvestad has 14 years of service on the Farmington Fire and Rescue Department since 2003. He served as assistant chief from 2015 to present. He was a fire captain from 2009 to 2015 and lieutenant from 2007 to 2009.

Professionally, Elvestad works for the city of St. Paul as a DSI Fire Safety Inspector II.

Elvestad earned an associate degree in fire science technology from Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie. With plans to graduate in May of 2019, Elvestad is working on a bachelor's degree in fire science administration from Waldorf College in Orange Beach, Ala.

The department has grown as the city as grown.

In 2006, Farmington built a second fire house station on the city's northern end of town to protect the growing community that reached a 22,000 population. The volunteer firefighters also respond to calls in Empire, Castle Rock and Eureka townships.

In October 2014, Farmington City Council made the fire chief a full-time, paid position instead of an on-call fire chief. After that, the council laid off the full-time fire marshal.

The city hired Larsen in April 2015 as the city's first full-time fire chief. During his tenure, Larsen was praised for leading the department with a focus on training and obtaining better fire equipment. One goal was to increase the number of volunteer firefighters certified as fire officers and instructors.

"We have what I consider to be a volunteer fire department that is the most prepared and professional in our history, and that is not being disrespectful to any former fire departments," McKnight said.

Farmington Mayor Todd Larson echoed those sentiments.

"I have 100 percent confidence that when they get the call, they are going to make the proper decisions and come home safe," Larson said.

Hiring the new chief T may come as early as next week, city officials said.