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Willmar, Minn., fire chief resigns

WILLMAR -- Willmar City Administrator Charlene Stevens says Fire Chief Marv Calvin who is resigning from the position he has held with the city for the past 13 years will be a difficult individual to replace for the city.

In a letter of resignation from Calvin to Stevens on Monday, the fire chief said he has accepted a position as fire liaison for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Fire Consortium.

Calvin's last day with the city will be Aug. 9, which happens to coincide with his birthday. He begins his new duties Aug. 13.

"He has worked tremendously for the city of Willmar and while we are sorry to see him leave the city of Willmar, we certainly wish him well in his next position,'' Stevens told the Tribune on Tuesday.

"We know that he will be very successful in that, but it is hard for us to see him leave.''

The next steps will be determining interim management of the fire department and filling the vacancy, according to Stevens.

Calvin, 56, said he will be working with fire educators, program managers and MnSCU deans of fire training at Ridgewater College in Willmar. His office will be at home.

"It's an excellent opportunity for me and the next step in the logical progression for my skill set,'' Calvin said Tuesday.

Calvin grew up in Pennock, graduated from Willmar High School in 1974 and joined the fire service in 1977. Prior to coming to Willmar as fire chief in January 2000, Calvin served as chief of the Apple Valley Fire Department and served as a firefighter paramedic for Burnsville.

Calvin said he wants to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. While the city position is technically a 40-hour-per-week job, Calvin said he has worked from 55 to as much as 100 hours a week and averages 3 to 4 night meetings a week.

The MnSCU position is 32 hours per week and will allow flexibility to use the skills Calvin said he developed during his more than 30 years of work in the fire service.

Calvin said he explored a couple of opportunities that came up during the past year and that the MnSCU job was the only one that he interviewed for. The interview and the offer took place last Wednesday. Calvin said they negotiated over the weekend and he accepted on Monday. City Council members were notified by email on Tuesday.

"I'm humbled to be even considered for the position let alone selected,'' Calvin said. "It's a very great responsibility that the position is going to be afforded and I'll be able to use my skill set in working on bettering the fire service.''

When asked about his accomplishments, Calvin said Willmar firefighters are well-trained and he said one of his biggest accomplishments has been to return firefighters home safe to their families.

Other accomplishments include story time and producing a children's book with other agencies about firefighters, and development of a traffic pre-emption system with former Police Chief Jim Kulset and former City Administrator Michael Schmit that lets emergency response vehicles pass safely through intersections.

"It's been an excellent run here,'' Calvin said, noting that he has had "nothing but support'' from current and former mayors, City Council members, city administrators and department directors.

"I've been given tremendous opportunity not normally afforded to a fire chief to use the skill set that others have felt that I bring to the organization, and it's only by the grace of God I'm able to do that.'' he said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150