Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today announced her intention to appoint Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR) Battalion Chief David Engler as the new Acting Fire Chief starting December 1. He will replace Mike Despain, who has been serving as Acting Fire Chief since May. Despain previously served as Fire Chief from July 2016 until his retirement in March 2020.
Mayor Gaylor Baird said Despain has indicated his desire to end his current service at the end of November. She said the search for a permanent chief was paused this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic because the City was unable to secure participation in an on-site interview by all of the finalists for the position.
Engler began his career with LFR in 1996 as a Firefighter/Paramedic, was promoted to Fire Captain in 2006, and was named Battalion Chief in 2018. He earned an associate degree in fire protection technology from Southeast Community College, a bachelor's degree in public administration from Doane University, and a master's degree in negotiation and dispute resolution from Creighton University. He is now completing a master's in public administration from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
"Battalion Chief Engler was one of the finalists, and I greatly value his leadership and experience with LFR," the Mayor said. "We will re-evaluate the need to continue the search next spring. I look forward to working with our new Acting Chief in the coming months and appreciate all that he and our LFR team do each day to protect our community." The Mayor also thanked Despain for his dedicated service to the City.
"Being chosen to serve in this position is a tremendous honor," Engler said. "I couldn't be more excited to lead the outstanding women and men of Lincoln Fire and Rescue and strengthen relationships with our stakeholders as we meet upcoming challenges and continue to focus on providing excellent outcomes for those who use our services."
LFR was nationally reaccredited in March 2019 and remains one of the longest accredited fire agencies in the nation. The agency has been awarded "Gold Plus" status by the American Heart Association "Mission Lifeline" program in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The Center for Public Safety Excellence presented LFR with the inaugural Randy R. Bruegman Agency Innovation award in 2019.
LFR has a staff of about 325 and provides emergency response to fires, vehicle crashes and medical emergencies and emergency ambulance transportation; delivers fire safety education; promotes fire prevention to local residents and businesses; and is the host agency for Nebraska Task Force One, an Urban Search and Rescue Team serving as a component of FEMA's national disaster response system.