After operating for nearly a year with an acting chief, the Leavenworth Fire Department soon will have a new chief.
City officials announced Monday that Gary Birch has been hired as the new Leavenworth fire chief. Birch is scheduled to begin his new job Thursday.
He will replace Mark Nietzke, who has been serving as acting fire chief since November of last year.
Nietzke will return to his old duties of assistant fire chief, according to city spokeswoman Melissa Bower.
Birch has worked in the fire service for more than 35 years. He spent 27 years with the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department.
In 2010, he left his position as chief of the Liberty, Mo., Department after being with that department for seven years, according to information on that city's website.
He later served as the chief of the Holt Community Fire Protection District in Missouri. He resigned from that position last year, according to reports from The Kearney Courier.
Bower said Birch comes to Leavenworth after serving as an assistant chief in Bentonville, Ark.
An attempt to contact Birch for this story was unsuccessful.
Bower said the hiring process for the new chief had been open to current city employees. Birch was hired after being interviewed by a board that included the city manager and area fire chiefs.
City Manager Scott Miller had the final say regarding who was hired for the position but he leaned heavily toward what the board recommended, Bower said.
Miller was unavailable for comment Monday.
Nietzke began serving as acting chief last year after Mark DeMaranville was removed from the position of chief.
At the time, city officials said the change was the result of an ongoing personnel issue.
The move came after DeMaranville had been in a motorcycle accident northwest of Leavenworth. He later was charged with driving under the influence. He resolved the case by entering into a diversion agreement.
DeMaranville has continued to work for the Leavenworth Fire Department as a health inspector and safety officer.