6 questions with Hutchinson’s new fire chief Steve Beer and how his family shaped his career

By Adam Stewart
Hutchinson News – April 11, 2017

Photo by Lindsey Bauman

Steve R. Beer started April 3 as Hutchinson’s new fire chief, moving from after Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where he had been assistant fire chief for operations.

Beer said Hutchinson and Fond du Lac have a lot in common — Fond du Lac’s population is about 1,000 more than Hutchinson’s, both cities are county seats in farming regions, etc., with a lot of opportunities. He also saw Hutchinson Fire Department as an excellent department.

He comes from the fire fighting family: his uncle, brother and son all have served as firefighters, whether on full-time or volunteer departments.

Beer has been married for 28 years and has two grown children. Beer said he enjoys outdoor recreation, whether that is cycling, golfing or hunting.

As someone born and raised in Wisconsin, he is a fan of the Green Bay Packers, and his office at the Command and Training Center has a Packers helmet signed by native Kansan and K-State alumnus Jordy Nelson.

Beer sat down with the News this week to discuss his new job:

Why did you become a firefighter?

“It’s been in our family for many generations. My dad was an assistant fire chief for 32 years before he passed away on a volunteer fire department. Growing up, that’s what I knew.”

Why did you apply for the job with Hutchinson Fire Department?

“The No. 1 reason we looked at Hutchinson is the community. The people are so friendly and welcoming.”

What was your perspective on the March wildfires?

“Looking how things went down, I was humbled and truly honored to be part of a great organization that worked closely together with so many other agencies. The leadership and dedication of the Hutchinson Fire Department is truly why I applied to be Hutchinson’s next chief.”

What do you see as the fire chief’s role at the scene of an incident?

“Support the incident commander in any role they see fit.”

Often that role will be getting accurate information to the public quickly as a public information officer, he said.

Do you see any areas for Hutchinson Fire Department to improve on, whether in training, equipment or facilities?

“I think in any organization, you have to be aware of a continuous improvement model. If we find a tool or software program that can make us more effective and efficient, our agency will take a serious look at that product.

“As we go forward, some of the things − our technology, cancer initiatives and the mental aspect of our profession − it’s not normal for the average citizen to see what we see day in and day out on incidents, and we must be aware and take care of our firefighters so they have a long career and healthy retirement.”

Beer said firefighters’ life expectancy is 10 years shorter than the general public, on average, and fire departments can take steps to reduce cancer risks from the hazards they deal with.

He also wants to gather community feedback on what Hutchinson wants its fire department to be.

He added that Hutchinson has done a good job with the fire department’s stations, fleet and equipment for firefighters to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Outside of work, what matters to you?

“Out of uniform is our faith. Our faith is a big part of our lives. So when life throws you a curveball, I believe you get through with your faith, your family and your friends.”

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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