A longtime Deerfield resident with professional fire and EMS ties to the Madison Fire Department, Dane County EMS and Deer-Grove EMS will be Monona’s new fire chief.
Jeremy “Jerry” McMullen, who accepted the post at the Sept. 8 virtual Monona City Council meeting, is also a longtime member of the Deerfield Village Board.
He takes over as fire chief on Oct. 1.
McMullen said in an interview today he will resign at the end of September from his job as a fire code enforcement officer with the Madison Fire Department, where he has served since 2003. He also said he will resign at the end of the month as a limited-term employee with Dane County EMS. And he said he will resign immediately from the Deerfield Village Board, saying he will no longer have time to devote to that elected post. He has served on the Deerfield Village Board since 2011.
McMullen said he will remain a volunteer with Deer-Grove EMS. He has served with Deer-Grove EMS since 2006, and is currently a paramedic lieutenant.
McMullen will oversee Monona’s joint fire and EMS department that has a mix of full-time, paid-on-call and volunteer firefighters and paramedics.
The fire department has an annual budget of about $638,000 and the EMS department has an annual budget of about $677,000. Monona City Administrator Bryan Gadow said McMullen will be paid $98,000 a year as fire chief.
Gadow said 29 people applied for the position. Finalists were McMullen; Pleasant Prairie Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief David Wilkinson; Town of Madison Acting Assistant Fire Chief Brian Burkeland; Maple Bluff Fire
Chief Kristopher Loy; and Edgerton Fire Protection District Deputy Chief of Operations Jason Russ.
McMullen replaces former Fire Chief Scott Sullivan who retired in March. Assistant Chief Dan Eklof has served as the acting fire chief in the interim.
McMullen said he has lived in Deerfield for nearly 20 years and plans to remain living there. He said remaining in Deerfield meets a requirement as fire chief that he live no further than 15 miles from Monona.
He called his time with the Madison Fire Department “wholly positive,” and said “the same goes for my friends on the Deerfield Village Board.” He called the village board experience “eye opening and very educational.”
“There is no better way to see and have a say in how your tax dollars are spent, than with your local village or township boards,” McMullen said.
McMullen said the top challenges ahead for the Monona Fire Department are “common themes for public safety departments all over the country that rely on volunteers.”
Staffing and budget shortages, he said, are a dual challenge.
“A shortage in one causes stress and strain in the other, and that is true in both directions,” he said. “But while there are challenges, I also see more opportunities and am looking forward to seeing them come to life.”
Monona City Council members welcomed McMullen during their virtual meeting Tuesday, and he made a brief appearance in that meeting to accept the job. The council’s vote Sept. 8 to hire him was unanimous.
McMullen told council members that it was a “difficult decision,” to walk away from other positions in Madison, Dane County and Deerfield, but said “I saw so many opportunities with this position, that I simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity to apply.”
McMullen said he’s “really excited,” to begin in Monona. “I’m looking forward to doing some good things,” he said.