Brian Platz named North Liberty's first full-time fire chief

He's been with Iowa City Fire Department for 24 years

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NORTH LIBERTY — Iowa City Deputy Fire Chief Brian Platz has been named North Liberty’s first full-time fire chief.

Platz, whose appointment is subject to North Liberty City Council approval later this month, is scheduled to begin Nov. 6, according to a city news release.

“We had five solid candidates,” said City Administrator Ryan Heiar on Friday. “Brian, though, just had — obviously — some great experience with 24-plus years at Iowa City. From the technical side, he’s just an A-plus. His personality, his character are just A-plus-plus. He’s just a solid guy.”

Heiar said North Liberty has enjoyed some “great chiefs,” but they’ve all been part-time and with other jobs and obligations.

“I’m just excited to have someone onboard that’s always available for the fire department,” he said.

Platz will replace former part-time chief Eric Vandewater, who served with the department from 2005 to 2016; and interim fire chief Bill Schmooke, who will stay on as assistant chief.

“Personally, I’m super excited,” Schmooke said Friday. “I’ve known Brian for a lot of years now. He’s a great, great, great person ... I think he’s really going to make an impact on the day to day operations at the NLFD.”

Schmooke said he’s known Platz since he started with the North Liberty Fire Department through Platz’ volunteer work with the Solon Fire Department. Platz was Schmooke’s first captain when he was hired full time by the Iowa City Fire Department eight years ago.

“He was a mentor of mine from really early on,” Schmooke said.

Following a study conducted at the end of 2016, the volunteer fire department recommended hiring a full-time chief and implementing other changes. A search for a full-time chief was conducted this summer. The other candidates were Brookfield, Wis., Fire Lt. Steven Denzien; Marion Fire Capt. William House; Mason City Fire Capt. Jason Ogbourne; and Battalion Chief Richard Kurka with the Bloomingdale, Ill., Fire Department.

Schmooke said all of the candidates were highly qualified and put through a vigorous vetting process.

Platz has served with the Iowa City Fire Department for 24 years, most recently as deputy fire chief. As deputy chief, Platz is responsible for coordinating and directing emergency operations, maintaining facilities, managing special projects and serving as the department’s accreditation manager. Platz has a Master of Science degree from Grand Canyon University and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officers program. He has a Chief Fire Officer designation from the Centers for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Professional Credentialing and holds certificates as a firefighter, fire inspector, fire instructor, fire officer, emergency medical technician, aerial operator, driver operator and hazardous materials technician.

Schmooke said he expects Platz to start getting input from the fire department and North Liberty community on the direction the department will take in the coming years.

“I am happy to welcome Chief Platz aboard,” he said. “We’ll work well as a team together. I really think good things are on the horizon for us.”

Platz could not be reached for comment Friday. His salary information will be released in advance of the City Council’s Sept. 12 meeting. Schmooke previously said the new chief will earn a salary between $77,000 and $108,000 based on experience and qualifications.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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