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Olathe City Manager Michael Wilkes has announced that Jeff DeGraffenreid has been named Olathe’s new Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management. DeGraffenreid replaces George Bentley, who retired last December.
An Olathe native, DeGraffenreid began his emergency services career with Johnson County Med-Act and rose to the position of division chief responsible for special operations, external relations and all clinical and system performance improvement initiatives.
After serving in Med-Act, DeGraffenreid joined the Overland Park Fire and Rescue Department as its training chief. In that capacity, he not only served as a fire duty officer, but he was responsible for emergency services training and management of the Overland Park training facility.
In 2005, DeGraffenreid accepted the position of Chief Operating Officer for Heart-to-Heart International, an Olathe based not-for-profit organization focusing on international disaster response. DeGraffenreid was responsible for all operations of the Forbes “Top 200” not-for-profit business and its activities in over 50 countries.
DeGraffenreid attended the National Fire Academy and the University of Missouri’s Fire Service Leadership Enhancement Program. He holds both a bachelor's and master’s degree from MidAmerica Nazarene University and a Doctorate in Policy and Leadership from Saint Louis University.
According to Wilkes, DeGraffenreid is the right person at the right time. Wilkes said, “The very nature of fire services is changing, and we were looking for an innovative and cutting edge strategist to not only maintain, but enhance our exceptional fire department.” Wilkes said, “Jeff articulated a vision for where the fire department needs to be headed and how we can move forward to get there, and I believe he will work with our staff to make sure we continue setting the standard.”
DeGraffenreid said he was both humbled and excited about the opportunity. He said, “During my career, I’ve had the fortune to work side-by-side with the Olathe Fire Department on a daily basis, and I can tell you there is not a better department in the country. The nature of fire services continues to evolve from simply putting out fires and responding to medical calls to more and more specialized emergency services…every fire department must be willing to adapt to stay ahead of the curve by having the plans, training and expertise in place,” he said.
DeGraffenreid will become Olathe Fire Chief on April 5th.