LUFKIN (KTRE) – A career firefighter has been hired as the City of Lufkin's new fire chief. Danny Kistner comes from Garland, where he served as the assistant fire chief.
Kistner was one of three finalists in a nationwide search. He succeeds Pete Prewitt, who retired in March after 17 years of service. "Danny Kistner is a visionary – a forward thinker who brings a wealth of background and experience to the Chief's position. Lufkin is fortunate to have a chief of his caliber to lead the department," said city manager Paul Parker.
In a news release, Kistner was cited for streamlining the efficiency and effectiveness of the Fire Marshal's Office through strategic planning and cross training during his time in Garland. "His commitment to planning and training are completely in line with the thinking of the City of Lufkin. Danny Kistner 'gets it' and has a vision for taking an outstanding fire department and making it exceptional," Parker said.
"It felt right. I was ready to move on to the next level in administration and my wife and I wanted to bring up our daughter in a community with a high quality of life and strong family values," Kistner said.
His wife, who is a nurse practitioner, raised their older children on a ranch near Van, Texas. They moved into Garland, once their four older children left home. Now they want more 'rural roots' for their fourth grader.
In doing his research on Lufkin, Kistner added, "I liked what I saw. I visited with some firefighters and found them to be dedicated to the department and loyal to the community. It's growing and I think I bring the knowledge and expertise to move things along."
As for his philosophy and approach to management, "Everything we do is to make the community safer. I don't believe in stagnation. We can constantly challenge the status quo and explore ways to serve better. I demand and expect a higher level of excellence from the people I work with," Kistner said.
Kistner, an El Paso native, caught the public service bug in high school. Destined for a medical career, Kistner took an Emergency Medical Technician class to 'test the waters'. He said working with paramedics and going out on calls got in his blood and he never looked back.
Kistner holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fire Service Administration from Western Oregon University and a Masters Degree from Oklahoma State University in Fire and Emergency Management. He's received his Chief Fire Officer Designation, which is a peer reviewed accreditation in twenty different disciplines related to firefighting and public safety.
Lufkin's new Chief is passionate about fire fighter safety and making sure standards and practices are in place for the protection and benefit of all firefighters. He is one of a few regional life safety advocates for the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation's "Everyone Goes Home Life Safety Initiatives Program". In his words, "This means I am directly shaping the future of firefighting which has an impact on the local, state and national level."
In Lufkin, Kistner will lead a full-service department that provides fire suppression and rescue, emergency medical services with paramedics and ambulances, a 21 member hazardous materials team, fire inspections, fire code enforcement, arson investigation along with public information and education. "After being led by Chief Prewitt for seventeen years, the Chief's position could only be filled by someone with Kistner's experience, knowledge and dedication," said Mayor Jack Gorden.