After 41 years in public safety, Chief Ed Leier has announced his retirement effective February 28, 2020. Chief Leier joined the City of Vadnais Heights in 2004 and through his effective leadership, knowledge, and experience, the Vadnais Heights Fire Department maintains the ability to provide excellent public safety services to residents, businesses, and visitors of the Vadnais Heights community.
Chief Leier began his career in public safety as a paid on-call firefighter for Parkside Fire Department (an independent fire department providing fire protection in Maplewood). Eventually being elected Chief of the Parkside Fire Department in 1989, he served their organization until 1997. During that same time, Chief Leier began working for the State of Minnesota as a Hazardous Materials Coordinator and served the University of Minnesota as an adjunct instructor teaching Hazardous Materials Emergency Response.
Continuing to find new ways to serve the public, Chief Leier went to East Grand Forks to assist response efforts to flooding in the Red River Valley. There, Chief Leier was appointed Public Safety Director where notably, he was the first fire-trained Public Safety Director in the state of Minnesota as these positions were previously filled by law enforcement officials. Chief Leier later returned to his position with the State of Minnesota, where he led efforts to train local government units on hazardous materials, terrorism, disaster planning, and response.
The VHFD has seen a steady increase in total calls per year going from 759 calls in 2004 to 1,487 calls in 2019, almost doubling under Leier’s full-time leadership. As call types include everything from Emergency Medical Service to Fire calls, Chief Leier has been able to keep the department well prepared.
Throughout his time with the City, Chief Leier consistently maintained high levels of respect from fellow staff members and the elected officials. At the February 18, 2020 City Council meeting, Mayor Gunderson shared her thanks to Chief Leier: “Your passion for public safety, your staff of firefighters, but more so your passion to the community as a whole has been a great thing to work with and see… We will miss you!”
City Administrator Kevin Watson added: “First off, congratulations to Chief Ed Leier’s well deserved retirement. Ed spent 15 years with the City and took this organization from a part-time volunteer led organization, to a full-time professional operation. Over the past five years, Ed has developed a tremendous team of full-time and part-time fire fighters to give our community 24-hour staffed coverage… which lowers response times tremendously. Personally, I want to thank Ed for his dedication to the organization and supporting all the programs the City provides to our residents and businesses. I wish him all the best as he pursues all the challenges of retirement.”
Chief Leier humbly shared: “My role in the Public Safety field has been a very rewarding career but it is time to start a new chapter. I will still continue to teach and will look for a few small projects helping communities and organizations with the skills and experience I have gained. This is not a good-bye, it is a ‘Thank You’ to all the people who have been a part of my career.”