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Mayor taps stand-in Lincoln fire chief Engler to lead agency permanently
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Mayor taps stand-in Lincoln fire chief Engler to lead agency permanently

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
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News Conference: Police and Fire Chief Search Update 3-31-2021

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird on Wednesday named Dave Engler the permanent chief of Lincoln Fire and Rescue. 

Engler became acting fire chief last fall, taking the helm from Micheal Despain, the former chief who retired then returned to lead the department on a contract basis while the city looked to resume a search for a permanent fire chief.

Dave Engler

Dave Engler, Lincoln Fire and Rescue battalion chief and acting fire chief.

Despain served as acting chief beginning in May of last year but told the mayor he wished to step down at the end of November, a news release said.

Mayor taps battalion chief to serve as Lincoln's acting fire chief

Engler's nomination must be approved by the Lincoln City Council.

Engler, who was promoted to battalion chief in 2018, was one of two finalists in the most recent fire chief search.

The 24-year firefighting veteran started at Lincoln Fire and Rescue as a firefighter-paramedic in 1996 and made fire captain in 2006. He holds a bachelor's degree in public administration from Doane University and a master's degree in negotiation and dispute resolution from Creighton University.

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Engler was recently accepted into the 2021 Fire Service Executive Development Institute.

Lincoln police chief to leave post for job in private sector

Gaylor Baird said she has had the opportunity to see Engler's integrity, expertise and intangible leadership skills in action the past few months and came away impressed by the respect she saw firefighters had for him. 

Engler called the mayor's confidence in him along with his support from firefighters and community stakeholders humbling. 

“I’m truly honored for the nomination to lead Lincoln Fire and Rescue and the great group of professionals that we have in that organization,” Engler said at a news conference Wednesday. 

Also on Wednesday, the city posted its job listing for the open Lincoln police chief position. Applicants will be accepted through April 26.

Gaylor Baird has tapped the Police Executive Research Forum to recruit and vet candidates for that position, and once finalists are selected, the city will hold a public forum in June before an offer is made and nomination forwarded to the City Council for approval.  

Respondents to a survey about the position want the next chief to be committed to the community policing model, supportive of officers, focused on diversity and equity in policing and Lincoln generally, and dedicated to transparency and accountability, the mayor said. 

Crews respond to fire at northeast Lincoln strip mall


Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


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