by Joni Astrup
Former Elk River Fire Chief Bruce West has been named Minnesota’s next state fire marshal.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman announced that effective Dec. 4 West will replace State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl, who is retiring. West will also lead the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety.
West, of Elk River, said Monday that he’s excited, honored and humbled to be chosen for the job.
He already works closely with the State Fire Marshal Division as Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education executive director.
In his new position he will be the division director, working out of St. Paul. He will lead a staff of 56 people in the state fire marshal’s office and 18 in the Office of Pipeline Safety.
One challenge that appeals to him about the job is selecting the right staff members for the future.
A lot of employees in the division will be retiring in the next five years, West said, and there will be an opportunity to establish future leaders in the state fire marshal’s office.
“We are known nationwide as a leader in providing resources and assistance, and I want to keep that tradition, keep that honor of being, really, the go-to place for the fire service,” he said.
There are 784 fire departments around the state, and West said outreach is an important part of the division’s work.
The mission of the State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property through fire and arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in Minnesota, according to a press release. The mission of the Office of Pipeline Safety is to protect lives, property and the environment through implementation of a gas and hazardous liquid pipeline inspections program, enforcement, accident and incident investigations, and education.
West was Elk River’s fire chief from 1994 to 2009.
Elk River Mayor John Dietz said West was an excellent fire chief and he is happy for him in his new position.
“He has a passion for his work that is hard to match,” Dietz said. “I can’t think of a better man for the job.”
Rosendahl, meanwhile, is retiring after 40 years with the Minnesota fire service, including nearly 10 years leading the State Fire Marshal Division and Office of Pipeline Safety.
“I have really enjoyed the thousands of miles I’ve driven to every corner of this state to meet with firefighters and local officials,” Rosendahl said in a statement. “Talking fire prevention, firefighter safety and fire department efficiency is a dream come true.”
•A 35-year Minnesota fire service veteran, West started his career as a paid on-call firefighter with the Anoka-Champlin Fire Department.
•He was a full-time firefighter for Anoka-Champlin before he was appointed Elk River fire chief in October 1994.
•West was Elk River’s fire chief from 1994 to 2009.
•Prior to becoming Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education executive director, West worked at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management division as the training and liaison manager for the Minnesota Joint Analysis Center. West also served as the management division’s statewide fire liaison.
•West served on the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association Board of Directors and was its president in 2006-07.
Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety