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Long nominated for Park Rapids Fire Chief

Elected at the Park Rapids Fire Department annual business meeting early Thursday morning were, from left, First Assistant Chief Ben Cumber, Fire Chief Terry Long and Second Assistant Chief Bob Meier. Their election is a recommendation only until ratified by the city council. (Submitted photo)

In the wee hours of Thursday, Park Rapids firefighters voted to recommend the appointment of a new city fire chief.

Outgoing Fire Chief Donn Hoffman retired, effective Jan. 2.

According to assistant fire chief Ben Cumber, the fire department's annual business meeting, scheduled for 8 p.m. on Jan. 2, was delayed until approximately 12:30 a.m. This was because almost all Park Rapids Fire Department personnel were called out to the Blueberry Pines Golf Course fire.

Meanwhile, a crew of Nevis firefighters covered the Park Rapids fire hall in case of an incident in the city.

Once the Park Rapids fire personnel returned to station, they nominated first assistant chief Terry Long as fire chief, Cumber as first assistant, and Bob Meier as second assistant.

The department's recommendations are subject to approval by the city council.

About the new chief

Long is an EMT with North Memorial Ambulance Service, a Hubbard County first responder and owner of a heavy equipment company, Long Construction, Inc. Born and raised in Park Rapids, he has been a Park Rapids firefighter for more than 20 years, and served as training officer for about six years and as assistant chief for 10 years.

"It's interesting being in the fire service and working with all branches of the first responders," he said.

Asked about his plans as fire chief, Long said he doesn't foresee making a lot of drastic changes. "I don't think our fire department is broken or warped," he said. "I plan to continue the process that we've been building on for years and years."

After his years as assistant chief, Long said, "I'm sold on the process. It's a great organization. I'm really proud to be a small part of it. I'm happy to accept the responsibility and go forward."

Long and Tara, his wife of 38 years, have six children, four of them living in the Park Rapids area, and six grandchildren.

Assistant chiefs

Cumber is also a Park Rapids native and owns a heavy equipment company, Cumber Construction, Inc.

A Park Rapids firefighter for 12 years, Cumber has been the department's second assistant chief for two years. Prior to that, he served as training officer and president of the department. For the last five years, Cumber has worked at F.I.R.E., Inc., a company that teaches firefighting fundamentals.

Meier, who works at Park Rapids Auto Centre, is also a past president of the fire department and sits on the Fire Relief Association. He is also a member of the Todd Township Board.

A Park Rapids firefighter for 10 years, Meier was the department's safety officer for about two years and has been training officer for a year.

"I think things are headed in a really good direction," said Meier. "I've got big shoes to fill. With Donn leaving, everybody moved up a spot, so I'm the newest chief of the three. It's an honor to take on his number and go from there."