Fellows named new fire chief

Assistant chief will succeed retired Ron Nicolaus
by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Police and Fire Commission stayed in house to name a new chief for the Plymouth Fire Department.

The commission announced Wednesday that they have appointed Denis Fellows as the city’s next fire chief.

Fellows, who has been with the department for 33 years, is currently an assistant chief of EMS and rescue operations with the department.

He and Assistant Chief Rory Beebe have been overseeing department operations since the first of the year.

That was when the position became vacant with the resignation of long-time chief Ron Nicolaus.

Nicolaus was a member of the department for 51 years, including the last 34 as fire chief. He became fire chief on a part-time basis in 1980 and was hired as the city’s first full-time paid chief in 1997.

Fellows was one of six finalists selected from a field of 18 applicants for the position. He and Jim Flanagan were the only current department members considered.

The other four finalists were Robert Kiser, the DePere fire chief; Gary Lindow, deputy chief and training officer for the Kohler Fire Department; James Larsen, a contract instructor at the United States Fire Academy in Chicago; and Robert L. Wirtz Jr., battalion chief with the Aurora, Ill., Fire Department.

The commission conducted interviews with all six of the finalists before settling on Fellows as the new chief.

The fire chief position is budgeted at $50,000 annually.

Last fall, the Police and Fire Commission approved a new job description for the fire chief position along with a restructuring of public safety job descriptions and duties.

That included adding director of public safety duties to the police chief position, with the responsibility to “review work for program effectiveness and assist with overall personnel management including, when required, disciplinary actions,” for the fire department.

“The fire chief still has full control over the day-to-day operations of the department. He will do the running of the fire department,” Yerges told the commission members at that time.

Fellows will assume his new duties in March, according to the press release from the Police and Fire Commission.

The commission began the process of hiring Nicolaus’ replacement last fall, after the outgoing chief submitted his official retirement paperwork in September. At that time, the commission opted not to appoint an interim fire chief until a new one could be hired.

The Plymouth Fire Department also serves the town of Plymouth under a contract to provide fire protection service to the town. It has fire stations at Plymouth City Hall and at the Plymouth Town Hall.

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