Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger thanked his family, mentors and co-workers Wednesday night as he officially became Chief of the Omaha Fire Department. Mayor Jean Stothert administered the oath of office in a ceremony at the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center. "I think that all of us in this room can agree that the successes we have in life are not so much our own, but they are shared with the people that helped us achieve that success," said Chief Kanger.
Mayor Stothert appointed Kanger interim Chief in August. He was named permanent chief last month. "Chief Kanger shares my goals for excellence in public safety and administration," said Mayor Stothert.
Kanger joined the Omaha Fire Department in 1991 as a firefighter. He was serving as a Battalion Chief when Mayor Stothert named him interim Chief. His career in public service includes fire protection and prevention, suppression, hazardous materials mitigation and medical services. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University in 2008 and a Bachelor of Arts in Fire Service Management from Western Illinois University in 2002. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He has also served on the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association and the Elkhorn Suburban Fire District Board. He has been a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team manager and was been deployed after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Dean.
"I am excited about what is in store for the Omaha Fire Department. We have an incredibly talented and committed group of men and women. Everyday these individuals arrive at work ready to provide the high level of professional and compassionate service that the citizens expect and I demand," said Chief Kanger. "We are working very hard to provide those services efficiently, and with the understanding that the Omaha Fire Department wants to be part of the City’s budget solution not their budget problem."
"Chief Kanger has superior operational training to lead by example," said Mayor Stothert. Since December, the Chief has responded to numerous multi-alarm fires including the dorm fire on the UNO campus, a deadly mobile home fire in December and a business fire two weeks ago near 74th and Maple. He also led the rescue and recovery operation at the International Nutrition plant when it collapsed in January.