Council Denies Fire Department Third Deputy Chief

Baihly Warfield
Updated: February 11, 2019 10:39 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - The Duluth Fire Department does not operate today the way it did in 1912. However, an attempt to change the decade-old city charter to add another command staff position failed Monday night at Duluth City Council. 

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DFD is authorized to have a fire chief and two deputy chiefs. Chief Dennis Edwards, supported by city administration and the Local 101 firefighters union, asked councilors to change the city charter to allow him three deputy chiefs instead of two. 

"Over the years, we keep expanding our mission. And between that and a lot of regulation to keep track of training and how much training we have to do in certain areas, we just need to expand the command staff to kind of adapt to the changing needs of the fire department," Edwards said. 

However, changing the city charter requires unanimous council approval, and the ordinance only received eight of nine needed votes. Councilor Jay Fosle was opposed. 

Currently, Edwards has a deputy chief administrator, who is also in charge of emergency management, and a deputy chief of operations below him. He had hoped to elevate a training officer position to a deputy chief of training position.  

"With a more robust training program, that will make our firefighters more efficient, and they'll be able to do their job safer," the chief said. "And in turn, that makes the public safer because when the firefighters are safe and efficient and well trained, that's where they can help the public the most."

He said the new position would not have an impact on the fire department's budget. 

It's not the end of the road for the deputy chief of training position, however. It could still become a referendum on the ballot in the next election for voters to decide.


Baihly Warfield

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