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James Clack retires from firefighting career

James Clack, a 1978 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School, retired after 36 years as a firefighter.

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James Clack, a 1978 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School, retired after 36 years as a firefighter. He served as fire chief in three cities during his career.

He began his career as a firefighter in Minneapolis in 1986, later serving as a fire chief for the city. His most memorable experience there was serving as the overall incident commander during the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007.

Clack served as the fire chief in Baltimore, Md. from 2008 to 2013, where he supervised 1,800 firefighters.

The last position he held was fire chief in Ankeney, Iowa from 2014 until Dec. 2022. While there, he designed a new fire station to accommodate the rapid growth in the city.

“Ever since kindergarten I wanted to be a firefighter,” he said. “It’s the best job in the world. You get to help people every day and I loved it.”

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He and his wife, Rose, now live in the Hackensack area and look forward to spending more time with family and traveling. “We just love it up here in northern Minnesota,” he said.

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Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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