New fire chief will begin work Friday

Ben Steketee, a four-year volunteer with the Hillsboro Fire Department, will succeed Wayne Lowry as fire chief on Friday, Aug. 17.

Steketee and his wife, Mary, and their family moved to Hillsboro in 1996. He is employed as a journeyman plumber with Jost Plumbing & Heating in Hillsboro and will continue in that role after he becomes fire chief.

That will mean a different job structure than was the case for Lowry, who was a city employee for most of his years on the job.

“It’s going to be different because I still have a full-time job, so I’m going to have to do it as a second job-on weekends and after work,” Steketee said. “But that’s mainly in regard to record-keeping and setting up drills.

“As far as actually being on the scene during an incident, it will be like anything else-it’s an emergency response, so I’d go whenever the need arises.”

Steketee said he first considered filling the position when the mayor asked him to.

“Some of the other firefighters asked me, too,” he said. “I was kind of taken aback by it, but I decided to accept it.”

Steketee doesn’t expect to initiate any changes in the department in the near future.

“I want to get acclimated to the job first, find out what needs to be done,” he said. “There are some changes that I and some of the other firefighters have talked about making. But I want to do the job right first before I start making changes. It’s a new thing for me and I expect to learn quickly.”

“I certainly intend to do my best,” Steketee said. “While the position of chief is important, it’s the volunteers who make the department. The people of Hillsboro can expect the same level of fire protection as they’ve been getting.

“I’ve been pleased with the positive feedback I’ve received since I was appointed.

The Steketees have four children: Renae, 17, Jaimie, 13, Becky, 11, Benjamin, 8.

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