Higgins named new Ames fire chief

Friday, September 21, 2018 - 09:33

A longtime member of the Ames Fire Department was named Monday as its new chief.

Rich Higgins will assume his new duties on Sept. 1. He has served as interim chief since former chief Shawn Bayouth resigned in April. He was one of two finalists for the position, the other being former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn-Livingston. Both participated in public meetings earlier this summer.

“I’m honored to be selected Ames fire chief, and I’m looking forward to implementing new outreach programs that get firefighters into the community,” Higgins said in a news release announcing his appointment. “We have the ability to provide citizens with first aid, CPR and AED trainings, as well as continue our tradition of providing fire safety education. These are important skills that can save lives.”

Higgins became an Ames firefighter in 2002 after working in the city’s public works department since 2000. In 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant and served as shift commander from 2009 to 2012, when he was promoted to deputy chief.

Higgins earned an associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College, in Ankeny; a bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University, in Fayette; and a master’s degree in public administration from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Ind.

City Manager Steve Schainker praised Higgins in naming him the city’s new fire chief.

“I am very pleased to welcome Rich to our executive leadership team,” Schainker said. “I am confident Rich possesses the necessary technical skills, leadership capabilities, commitment to our organizational values, and compassion for both our employees and citizens that will assure his success in his new position of fire chief.”

The fire chief plans and directs the activities of the Fire Department, which includes the inspections division, in the protection of life and property. The Ames Fire Department is a full-service municipal department comprised of 58 firefighters located at three fire stations. It focuses on fire inspection, prevention, and suppression, as well as emergency services. The inspections division includes 13 employees. The inspections division administers and enforces state and city safety codes regulating building construction, maintenance, and use by issuing permits and performing inspections, as well as enforces the city’s rental housing code, dangerous building code, property maintenance ordinances, and sign laws.

Higgins said another initiative he wants to pursue is encouraging community fitness with monthly workouts with firefighters.

“While fire suppression and safety will always be our primary focus, we are looking at other initiatives to improve our connection with residents and improve their overall wellness,” Higgins said in the release.

Bayouth resigned after 10 years with the fire department to join Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark., as an assistant professor of disaster preparedness and emergency management.

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