The Albertville City Council unanimously approved the hiring of the city’s first-ever full-time fire chief at its regular meeting Monday, March 2, naming Minneapolis Police Officer and longtime St. Michael and Albertville volunteer firefighter Eric Bullen to the position.
Bullen was selected from 25 applications, reviewed by a selection committee consisting of council members from Albertville, Otsego (Albertville Fire and Rescue contracts with Otsego for service), the two communities’ city administrators and State Fire Marshal Bruce West. Eight applicants were interviewed initially, with two finalists interviewed on Feb. 20, 2015.
City Administrator Adam Nafstad told the council that the committee was impressed with a number of the applicants, but Bullen’s longtime police career and service with both the St. Michael and Albertville fire departments made him the favorite.
The job, which was approved by the Albertville City Council in November 2014, was part of the 2015 budget, and will pay $82,160.72 annually, with a one-step increase slated for Bullen once he passes his initial review period.
Albertville’s fire calls are at a consistent number annually, according to a recent report given to the panel by current Chief Tate Mills. However, with the expansion of the Otsego area, particularly development of the land served by the Albertville Fire Department – including a proposed new school, an acting, full-time chief was a necessity, according to Mayor Jillian Hendrickson.
That proposal was brought to the fire department last fall, and the firefighters voted unanimously to approve the formation of the fire committee and the hiring of a chief.
Bullen, who is a Minneapolis K-9 Police Officer, will transition out of his career with the MPD in September, after 20 years of service. He’s working with both the City of Albertville and the City of Minneapolis to make that transition as seamless as possible, Nafstad said.
Since Bullen will be a city employee, he will put his service credits with the Fire Relief Association on hold, Naftsad added. A negotiation for a potential benefit for his nine years with AFD as a paid on-call firefighter will be held at a future date.