Current Illinois fire chief named next fire chief for Poudre Fire Authority

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Poudre Fire Authority has named a new fire chief.

Derek Bergsten, the current fire chief for the Rockford Fire Department in Illinois, will join PFA as the new chief at the end of May, the agency announced Wednesday. 

Bergsten has a “history of prioritizing innovation, collaboration, diversity, and workforce development,” according to the news release. 

“I know Chief Bergsten to be a caring, compassionate, engaging and listening leader. He has great energy and will be a great fit in our community,” current PFA Chief Tom DeMint said in the release. “I am excited to pass command to this recognized fire service leader who will help chart the course of the future of PFA.”

DeMint is set to retire at the end of May after nearly 40 years in the fire service and will continue to lead the department until Bergsten takes over the roll. 

Bergsten began his firefighting career as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Loves Park, Illinois, in 1989, according to a news release. He was hired by the Rockford Police Department in 1994 and rose through the ranks, becoming fire chief in 2008.

Rockford, Illinois Fire Chief Derek Bergsten has been named the next fire chief for Poudre Fire Authority.

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Rockford has a population of 147,000 people, and its fire department responded to about 30,000 incidents in 2019. PFA responded to about 22,000 incidents in 2019, according to the news release. 

Bergsten was named the 2020 Illinois Fire Chief of the Year by the Illinois Fire Chief Association for “significant, ongoing contributions in our profession,” according to the organization’s website.

Bergsten was one of four finalists for the position who visited Fort Collins earlier this month. The finalists met PFA staff, toured Fort Collins, were interviewed by PFA leadership and the PFA Board of Directors, and were introduced to the community through a public forum.

Bergsten is expected to start at PFA about May 24, and PFA is planning an change of command ceremony for after his arrival.

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Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at sswanson@coloradoan.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.