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University Fire Department welcomes familiar face as Fire Chief in 2022

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 4:13 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A familiar face at University Fire Department in Fairbanks will start the coming year as the new Fire Chief.

Forrest Kuiper has been acting Interim Fire Chief since June of 2021; but come January 2022, he will officially take on the chief position.

“I came to Fairbanks in the fall of ‘97 as a student firefighter at the University Fire Department because I heard about it as a great program, and I came here, [and] for all intents and purposes I haven’t left yet,” Kuiper said.

Since his start, Kuiper says he worked his way up. He also worked as a safety officer on campus, until coming back to the station full time in 2003. “I was a Captain for 15 years, and the last several years I’ve been a Battalion Chief, [then] the Interim Fire Chief at the end of June.”

He says this new position might keep him back in the office, but he wants to ensure the firefighters and officers have the tools, equipment, and resources to be able to do their job. “It’s a new opportunity,” Kuiper continued. “I am able to help and serve our students and firefighters in a new capacity. So I am excited about that. But there will still be a part of me that misses going on calls and the excitement, being able to help the community that way. It’s a different capacity, there will be a part of me that misses it.”

Kuiper says he is proud of the students and the program at the university, and plans to continue providing qualified, experienced, educated firefighters to fill their growing demands. He says if you are looking into Emergency Services, Fairbanks is one of the best places in the nation to do it.

“There are opportunities at UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) for the academic program,” Kuiper said. “There are opportunities at the University Fire Department for employment as a student firefighter. You can get paid, and there are several departments in the area that offer scholarship positions for students while they are going to UAF.”

He also said there are firefighters that come to Fairbanks just for the fire science and emergency services program.

The University Fire Department works alongside other departments in the area, and Kuiper says when it comes to the people they serve, regardless of the name on the trucks, firefighters work together to help those in their time of need.

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