Hermantown hires Fire Chief for new department model

As the City of Hermantown moves from a volunteer fire department model to one with a couple full-time employees, they have hired a Fire Chief.

Zach Graves will serve as chief and the city’s first full-time employee of the Fire Department, which will operate within the Department of Public Safety.

“We have had decades of incredible volunteers helping keep our community safe, and that’s a great foundation to build our next department,” Graves said in a press release.

Hermantown has now opened a second full-time position for hire, a Fire Inspector/Training Officer. According to the press release, they hope to have that person in place by early November. The department also has several part-time positions.

The Hermantown Volunteer Fire Department has been around for 70 years. It will formally disband at the end of 2023, although the city says most of the current volunteers will be on staff of the new department come Jan. 1, 2024.

According to the city, the change allows Hermantown to offer better pay, retirement, and scheduling options for part-time firefighters. They say it’s a critical change with the struggle to recruit volunteer firefighters.

Hermantown Police Chief Jim Crace will also serve as the Director of Public Safety, overseeing both police and fire.

“We know we can build off our synergy, as both departments have always been focused on Hermantown’s safety,” Crace said. “There are efficiencies to be gained, both in terms of day-today efforts and long-term planning, that will benefit Hermantown greatly.”