Town of Beloit fire chief planning to retire
TOWN OF BELOIT — After 40 years with the Town of Beloit Fire Department, Chief Dennis Ahrens is ready to step aside and let some of the younger guys take over.
Ahrens, who has been fire chief since 2004, will retire Aug. 16 and move to northern Wisconsin with his family.
"The town's been a good employer, and I've been very happy with the job," he said. "It's just time to move on."
The town board accepted Ahrens' retirement at a meeting Monday night, but did not make any decisions about a replacement, town Administrator Brian Wilson said.
Wilson will bring information about qualifications and skills needed for the position to the board's 4:15 p.m. Monday workshop for a discussion on whether the town or a search firm should find the next chief. The board has not officially named an interim chief.
After graduating from Turner High School, Ahrens started as a paid, on-call firefighter in 1973. At the time he was taking police science courses, but switched his minor to fire science.
"And I basically developed an interest in fire service," he said. "My career kind of took off from there."
He was hired full time in 1979 and promoted to assistant chief in 1989.
The department grew substantially under his tenure, with the biggest move coming in 2010 into the new station.
"It's hard to believe that I've seen most of the vehicles replaced once and some of them twice," he said. "Usually we keep them 20 years."
The department has 10 full-time employees and 33 paid, on-call firefighters.
Ahrens said his biggest goal was getting a paramedic program started, which is underway. Thanks to a "generous donation" from a local resident, EMTs are in training, and eventually six will be licensed with additional hiring to help fill all the shifts.
The program should be implemented by January, he said.