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Bouwens named deputy fire chief

September 5, 2018 GMT

ROCK FALLS – Twin City Joint Fire Command has a new deputy chief in Rock Falls.

The Rock Falls City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the appointment of Cris Bouwens, 53, to the position. Bouwens will replace Bill Milby, who will retire from the department, effective Sept. 30.

Milby, 58, had been with the department full time for 31 years.

Bouwens, a 21-year department veteran, has been a captain in Rock Falls for 12 years.

Twin City Fire Chief Gary Cook made the appointment, which was approved by the Police and Fire Commission before moving to the council for a vote. Bouwens’ salary will be $73,198

Two of the department’s three captains applied for the job. In the firefighting profession, it can be difficult to find people who are interested in making the jump to management, Cook said.

“In this business, getting off the truck is a big deal,” Cook said. “Management is an entirely different mindset and way of life – you go from making split-second decisions to looking at big-picture issues.”

The chief said he was fortunate to have senior captains interested in the position.

“Cris has been very conscientious and a dedicated member of the department who has earned the opportunity to make this jump,” Cook said.

The department’s administrative consolidation should make for an easier transition, Cook said. Bouwens will be able to work closely with his Sterling counterpart, Deputy Chief Mike Dettman.

His first day as deputy chief will be Oct. 1. Firefighter Kyle Sommers, 33, a 10-year veteran, will be promoted to captain to fill that vacancy on the Rock Falls side, leaving a firefighter opening for Cook to fill.