Prussing appoints Nightlinger fire chief

Prussing appoints Nightlinger fire chief

URBANA — Interim Fire Chief Brian Nightlinger could get the spot permanently if the Urbana City Council confirms Mayor Laurel Prussing's appointment next week.

Nightlinger has been acting fire chief since June, when former chief Mike Dilley retired. He would be taking over the position after spending the past six years as a division chief.

A vote on his appointment to the position will be among city council business when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Nightlinger was one of three finalists for the position. The city began accepting applications this summer.

He's already been giving thought to what's next for the fire department, he said Thursday. Staff development will be among his top priorities — he said he would like to pass program management assignments down to some of the lower-ranking firefighters to bolster their department experience.

"That's something I'm big on is preparing the department for the future," Nightlinger said.

Recruiting is part of that. He said he wants to work with other Champaign County fire departments to set up an Explorer post for younger people interested in fire service.

"What we would like to see is more city kids seeing that being a firefighter is an option," he said.

Facilities are another key issue — although it will be a longer-term concern. Urbana firefighters have been crammed into space in the city building for some time, and Nightlinger said he wants to move forward with looking at and devising a plan for the city's fire stations despite the city's budget struggles.

He said losing property tax revenue from Carle Foundation and Presence Covenant hospital properties will make budgeting tougher in the future.

"I would like to continue to go ahead and make plans and maybe seek some funding to do some facilities studies," he said. That way, when an opportunity arises, the city will have done its homework.

Nightlinger joined the Urbana Fire Department in 1998. He spent the five years prior working for the University of Illinois fire department before the city of Urbana took over campus fire protection.

He first joined fire service in 1977 as a firefighter for the Catlin Fire Protection District. He eventually became fire chief there.

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