URBANA — Mayor Diane Marlin said her city’s new fire chief brings a “fresh perspective.”

With about 15 months overseeing the department’s emergency medical services under his belt, Demond Dade will take the top spot on Friday.

Before stepping in as the city’s first deputy fire chief in April 2021, Dade served 21 years with the fire department in his hometown of Quincy.

When he arrived in Urbana, some faces were already familiar to him, having also spent four years as a part-time instructor at the Illinois Institute of Firefighters in Champaign.

“He’s outgoing, he’s passionate about the fire service, he’s enthusiastic and brings a lot of great ideas,” Marlin said.

Dade’s replacement as deputy chief was also promoted from within. Kyle Hensch, a 23-year-old Urbana firefighter who currently serves as the fire battalion chief, will become the department’s second-in-command.

The position was created last year to share the administrative tasks within the department head. Both positions take turns as on-call department head.

Dade and Hensch will receive their official appointments at Monday’s city council meeting and will begin their duties on Friday, a day after current fire chief Chuck Lauss retires.

“We went for internal promotion for both positions – in an ideal world, that’s how it should work,” Marlin said. “In this case, we had current staff who were ready, willing and certainly qualified to fill these positions.”

Lauss is ending a 35-year firefighting career in four Illinois departments, the last three and a half years at Urbana. He and his wife Gaye are set to move to Warrenville, SC

In December 2018, five months into Lauss’ tenure as chief, the department received Class 1 designation from the Bureau of Insurance Services. Of approximately 40,000 U.S. fire departments, only a few hundred hold Class 1.

The staff has also grown under his leadership and two modernized stations are on the way. His “exit” ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m.

“It was a very productive time during his tenure,” Marlin said. “I appreciate his service and wish him the best.”


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