Names in the News: September 5, 2021

This bi-weekly series is dedicated to the latest promotions and other news within the fire service.

MICHELE PANKOW was named the first-ever female chief of the Rockford (IL) Fire Department (RFD). Pankow is a 28-year RFD veteran and the 11th chief in the department’s history. She joined the RFD in 1992, working her way up the ranks to become the RFD’s first female division chief in 2016. Pankow has an associate degree from Rock Valley College, a bachelor’s degree in fire service management from Southern Illinois University, and a master’s in public administration from Northern Illinois University. She formally takes office today, September 5.

RICHARD SHANNON DRAPER was announced as the new chief of the Westlake (TX) Volunteer Fire Department. He is a 29-year fire service veteran who has served as a fire chief since 2012 as well as a division chief of training and safety. Draper is a member of the National Fire Protection Agency and the International Association of Fire Chiefs and has a bachelor of science degree in administration as well as several emergency services-specific credentials. He takes over the position from previous WVFD Chief Mark Palmer, who is retiring.

MATTHEW LOVE will take over as the new chief of the St. Cloud (MN) Fire Department (SCFD) on December 6. Love is currently the chief of the Fort Myers Beach (FL) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter since 1997 and a chief since 2009. Love has also worked with the Colorado Springs (CO) Fire Department, where he was recognized for creating the Firefighter Seatbelt Safety Program “25 Percent—Simply Preventable.” Love was also selected by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Lee County, Florida, as Fire Chief of the Year in February 2019.

GAVIN GILCREASE was sworn in as the new chief of Selkirk Fire Rescue & EMS (FREMS) in Sandpoint, Idaho, on August 30. Gilcrease began his fire career during the first Gulf War, when he was in the Navy. Afterward, he transitioned to a volunteer firefighter before becoming a paid member. Gilcrease arrives in Sandpoint from the St. John’s Fire District in Johns Island, South Carolina, where he began as a firefighter in 1997, rising through the ranks to become its assistant chief. He takes over the position from Selkirk FREMS Interim Chief Dale Hopkins, who retired.

CHRISTOPHER NIGG was hired as the new chief of the La Verne (CA) Fire Department after a unanimous city council vote on August 16. Nigg is a 20-year fire and emergency services veteran and the fire marshal for the cities of Fullerton and Brea, California. He is experienced in fire department operations and administration, fire prevention, community risk reduction, and emergency management. He has also served as president of the Orange County Fire Marshals and president of Fullerton Fire Management Association, among other positions.

To feature yourself or a fellow member in “Names in the News,” please send an e-mail with the information (60-100 words) and a high-resolution photo of the member with the subject line “NITN” to


Names in the News: August 22, 2021

Names in the News: August 8, 2021

Names in the News: July 25, 2021

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