Superior fire chief plans to retireSuperior’s Fire Chief Jim Rigstad is retiring at the end of the year. “He’s done a fantastic job,” said Dennis Dalbec, president of the city’s Police and Fire Commission. “We hate to see him go.”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Superior’s Fire Chief Jim Rigstad is retiring at the end of the year.
“He’s done a fantastic job,” said Dennis Dalbec, president of the city’s Police and Fire Commission. “We hate to see him go.”
Rigstad joined the Superior Fire Department in 1983, working his way up the ranks from firefighter to motor pump operator. He was promoted to captain in 2001 and battalion chief in 2006. The commission chose him to replace outgoing Chief Tad Matheson in 2009.
Dalbec said he believes the commission will choose to look in-house for a replacement, as they did with the Superior police chief position last year. There are, he said, “a lot of gifted individuals” at the fire department.
The selection process will be discussed at the commission’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12. Who will ultimately be chosen to take the top spot in the department will be up to members of the commission.
“The city council and mayor have no influence over who’s selected,” Dalbec said.
Rigstad, 56, said the job of chief has been challenging. Recently, a budget crunch caused by Wisconsin’s Act 10 has led to less firefighters on the job. One position was not filled following a March retirement and one firefighter has been laid off, Rigstad said. Another firefighter is leaving the department to take a new job this week. With that departure, there will be 30 firefighters on the department, 34 including the chief and three battalion chiefs.
“We still have three firefighters on duty at each fire station,” Rigstad said. But there is now only one swing person on each shift to fill in for firefighters who are sick or on vacation; there used to be two. Currently, the employee who was laid off is filling in on an on-call basis to cut down on overtime costs. At the beginning of the year, the chief said, that firefighter will be able to return to the department full-time.
The loss of firefighters has not led to a change in the city’s fire rating or a lack of safety for members of the department, according to Rigstad.
“We run with a minimum of nine firefighters and a battalion chief,” he said. “We’re at that quite often already.” He said the biggest change has been overtime costs, which have increased.