Liggett will be chief in Freeport

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BELOIT - Longtime Beloit Fire Chief Brad Liggett is moving on, and has accepted the chief's position at the Freeport, Illinois Fire Department.

Liggett, 52, has served as Beloit Fire Department chief for 16 years, and has worked over 30 years with the department.

The career firefighter said his reason for leaving Beloit was to be closer to family, and said, it also "would be a good thing for Beloit to have some new leadership."

"I've been very blessed with working alongside some of the most caring and empathetic folks in the world," Liggett said. "We have a fantastic, dedicated crew and we work hard to keep things going in the department and to make sure we respond to the needs of the community and I am very proud to have been part of such a quality organization."

He said without his family's support his career in the fire service would have been short, saying he has "sincere and unending appreciation for family and staff."

"I would not have been able to ascend to this position without all their support," Liggett said.

Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow confirmed the city offered Liggett the position on June 20, noting the Freeport City Council would vote on Liggett's contract on July 1.

Liggett is expected to start in Freeport on July 8.

"Chief Liggett is the right person to fix some of the issues we've started to address 18 months ago alongside some new initiatives going on," Crow said. "He's the right person for the position. He's going to be the one to take the Freeport Fire Department into the future and look forward to having him part of the management and leadership."

Freeport Fire Chief Todd Allen resigned and accepted a chief's position in DeLand, Florida in March. He was hired in Freeport in October 2017.

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther thanked Liggett for his service to the city.

"We wish Chief Liggett all of the best as he begins this new endeavor," Luther said. "The City of Beloit appreciates Chief Liggett's dedication and care for the community that he demonstrated in the past 30 years."

According to Beloit Police and Fire Commission regulation, the PFC "shall appoint the Chiefs of the Police and Fire Departments." There is no specific language outlining the appointment of interim command staff in PFC regulations. According to PFC regulation, all promotions "shall be subject to the approval by the PFC.

Luther said since it was so early on, the replacement process is "yet to be determined."

According to state law, appointment of chief for police and chief of fire rests solely with the PFC. In a November 2016 opinion by the The League of Wisconsin Municipalities legal team, the league notes the PFC "has authority to appoint an interim or acting chief while the search for a new chief is being conducted." A 1939 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision supports this conclusion. In Walsh v. Richland Center, the court upheld the appointment of an acting or interim chief by the Richland Center police and fire commission.

Liggett said his success as chief was due to the department's staff.

"Their chief has the ultimate responsibility but the folks who get the work done are the line staff," he said. "The chief sets the course and gets the resources and the staff is where it happens for a department. Since coming on as chief, Liggett has transformed the department, overseeing the construction of Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 3; secure annual grant funding for equipment upgrades; updated the department's hiring process and stressed the youth fire explorer academy.

Although he's required to live in Freeport, Liggett said he'd still manage to make it back to Beloit.

"Beloit will always be home for my family and I," he said.

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