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KCK Fire Department taps former Atlanta, DC chief as interim fire chief

Dennis Rubin interim KCKFD fire chief.png
Posted at 11:09 AM, May 01, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Washington, D.C., and Atlanta fire chief has been appointed as the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department’s interim fire chief.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and KCK announced Monday that Dennis L. Rubin would step into the vacancy created by former KCKFD Fire Chief Michael Callahan’s resignation, which became effective last Friday.

Rubin served as Atlanta’s fire chief from March 2002 to April 2007 and headed DC’s fire department from April 2007 to January 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Most recently, he served as a consultant and as a contributing editor at Firehouse.

“Becoming a part of the Kansas City (Kansas) Fire Department as the Interim Fire Chief is a personal and professional honor,” Rubin said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working alongside of the women and men of this great Fire Department to protect the lives and property of our community.”

Rubin will take the department’s reins June 1.

“It will take time to find our next full-time fire chief,” County Administrator David Johnston said in a release. “Thus, it was important to me to find a highly qualified interim fire chief with respected credentials to lead the department in the meantime. We were fortunate that Chief Rubin, a person professionally recognized as a national leader in fire safety management, agreed to serve the Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas community. I am sure that the men and women of our fire department will benefit from his wealth of experience.”

KCKFD hired Callahan, who previously worked as a deputy fire commissioner during a 38-year career with the Chicago Fire Department, in July 2018.

Former County Administrator Doug Bach said Callahan “checked the box every time we went along” when he was sworn in, but less than two years after he was hired, calls for his ouster started over his living arrangements and lax COVID-19 protocols.

IAFF Local 64, the union that represents KCKFD’s firefighters, unanimously voted that it had “no confidence” in Callahan’s leadership in January 2021, saying his lack of responsiveness had tanked morale among the rank-and-file.