New Grand Rapids fire chief named

John Lehman, Grand Rapids Fire Department, grfd, chief
John Lehman has been named the new Grand Rapids fire chief.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a nearly five month search, the Grand Rapids Fire Department has a new leader.

John Lehman, who recently retired as the fire chief in Aurora, Illinois, has been named Grand Rapids’ new chief by City Manager Greg Sundstrom. He beat out four other finalists, including one internal candidate, for the job.

Lehman spent nearly 30 years with the Aurora Fire Department, about three of which were as chief, before retiring in February. The Aurora Fire Department is similar in size and scope to the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

In a Tuesday afternoon release, the city said Lehman had plans to “enhance … community education efforts; including fire safety for older adults and their caregivers, provide bilingual fire education, focus on college fire safety and stress the importance of carbon monoxide safety.”

Other plans included making the department more transparent and increasing diversity by adding more African-American, Hispanic and women firefighters.

Former GRFD Chief Laura Knapp, the first woman to hold the job, retired in January. Deputy Fire Chief Margaret Felix has been serving as interim chief since then.

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