Village of Sussex — The Sussex Fire Commission appointed David Johnsen to serve as the new Sussex fire chief on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
“I look forward to getting to know people within the community," Johnsen said. "The fire service and fire department in any community, especially in a smaller town, is really the cornerstone ... It’s a privilege to serve; we are invited into people’s lives, arguably sometimes on the worst day of their life. I’m looking forward to meeting people. If anybody ever needs to get in touch with me, I have a very open-door policy. I’m looking forward to being part of the community.”
Johnsen will join the Sussex Fire Department on Feb. 27; he is fulfilling his final work commitments with his current employer, the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District in Illinois.
Johnsen started his 30-year career in fire service with the New Berlin Volunteer Fire Department. He began working for the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District in August 1991. Johnsen progressed through the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant to captain, then battalion chief, which was his most recent position prior to being hired by Sussex.
He earned a master's degree in business administration from Benedictine University in 2007, and obtained his bachelor of arts degree in management from there in 2004.
"Chief Johnsen brings a wealth of experience to the Sussex Fire Department and has earned numerous fire service certifications over his career, including as a firefighter, fire officer, technical rescue, rescue team manager, urban search and rescue, incident command and local incident management," according to a release by the village of Sussex.
As established by the Sussex Village Board in August, Johnsen's salary will be in the range of $80,000 to $95,000.
Johnsen will take over from Deputy Chief Tony Emanuele, who has been leading the department as interim fire chief since former Fire Chief Colin 'Corky' Curtis retired in June.
Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said while he did not directly hire Johnsen, per state statute, he participated in the interview process and gave feedback on the final two candidates.
Johnsen was up against Joseph Hoffman for the fire chief position; Hoffman has been the assistant fire chief with the city of Waukesha for more than 12 years.
Smith said Johnsen's leadership experience and management skills will help lead the community forward.
"I think David has some great leadership skills and he’s going to be a wonderful addition to our community and continuing to guide our fire department forward, and he’ll be a great addition to our management team," Smith said. "He’ll be a great all-around community member and leader for our organization. I’m glad to have his experience and skills as we move forward with lots of changing things in this world.”