By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Board picks new Monroe fire chief
Placeholder Image
MONROE - After an arduous process spanning three months, the Monroe Board of Police and Fire Commissioners decided to hire Dan Smits of Crete Fire Department in Illinois instead of current interim chief Lane Heins as the new Monroe fire chief.

Board president Charles Koch said Smits was simply the best person for the position. The five-member commission voted unanimously for Smits.

"He is the candidate we felt was most qualified to lead the department," Koch said.

Heins, who has been a member of the fire department since Sept. 14, 1999, after moving to Monroe from the Platteville Fire Department, took over as interim chief in September after Daryl Rausch left the department to serve as chief in Fort Atkinson.

Heins was recently charged with disorderly conduct following an altercation with his ex-wife. Allegations of negative conduct were also shared publicly with commissioners. The possibility that Heins would be hired as chief permanently prompted 10 Monroe firefighters last month to sign a letter, asking the commission not to hire him because of his effect on morale. They specifically outlined negative communications, favoritism for certain officers and a misuse of department equipment, vehicles and office space.

Other firefighters pushed for his hiring and wrote their own letter outlining how Heins is an asset to the department through his creation of fundraisers and work toward the MERIT Training Center.

Five of the firefighters who saw the possibility of Heins being hired as a detriment to retaining qualified firefighters were present on Tuesday to hear board members announce Smits as the preferred candidate. They thanked commissioners for their "due diligence" after the announcement was made.

Smits' hiring is contingent upon passing a drug test and him accepting the city's offer.

Smits has been a firefighter for 40 years. He began in Lansing, Illinois, as a paid on-call worker at 18. He then moved to Calumet City, Illinois, and served through the ranks for 26 years before becoming deputy chief in Crete. Smits is also certified with the National Fire Academy.

He said he has been looking to move to the Monroe area for "quite some time" because it is close to family and he enjoys the city.