“No turning back” – a ski trip, a recruitment poster, and a burning desire to serve

chief-liebIn the long, rural stretches of road in Big Sky Country, otherwise known as Montana, newly appointed Chief Lieb remembers the silence. The life of a highway patrolman had him feeling his job was quiet – a bit too quiet. He had previously served a two-year stint in the Air Force, and found himself longing for new surroundings.

“I missed the bigger city,” said the Minnesota native. “I missed the music, the scene, the vibe…” It was 1993 and little did Chief Lieb know that a ski trip to Salt Lake City would change everything.

Fast forward and Chief Lieb now finds himself at the helm of Salt Lake City’s Fire Department. As the latest appointment by Mayor Biskupski, the Chief is responsible for the operational readiness and capability for more than 300 firefighters across 14 fire stations in the City.

Chief Lieb had been serving as interim fire chief since October, with the retirement of former Chief Brian Dale. Prior to that, Chief Lieb served as Deputy Chief, a District Battalion Chief, Station Captain, and a HazMat Technician. Altogether, he brings 21 years of experience to the table.

“I’m confident that Chief Lieb’s extensive record of service and leadership has prepared him to lead our Fire Department into the future,” said Mayor Biskupski.

The Chief has also been heavily involved in the format and curriculum of outreach programs, specifically Camp Athena and Camp Prometheus. Designed for young women and men, respectively, both camps share the goal to inspire underrepresented youth to pursue fire service careers.

“As Salt Lake City grows, I want us to evolve deeper as a service organization – beyond the view of us just shooting water out of a hose, “Chief Lieb said. “With increased outreach initiatives, I’m committed to diversifying our workforce to represent the communities we serve.”

“I’m especially impressed with his involvement in progressive outreach programs, “said Mayor Biskupski. “His commitment to reach out to youth and to protect all citizens of Salt Lake City is commendable.”

In reflecting on his career journey, the Chief can’t help but feel that he found his way to firefighting by sheer coincidence. “Luck shined on me ” he said as he described it. Originally visiting Salt Lake City for a ski trip, he found himself seeking a new job and stumbled upon a recruitment poster for SLC Fire.

“I drove over to Fire Station #8 by the [Smith’s] Ballpark. I told one of the firefighters there I might be interested in a job, and he talked with me for a long time, telling me how great the job is. I still work with a lot of these guys today. Anyway, they sold me. “Chief Lieb said. “I applied for a job and have never looked back.”

With a commission in the United States Air Force and POST certification from the State of Montana Highway Patrol Academy, Chief Lieb has extensive experience in the public safety realm from federal to the municipal levels. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Utah, and an Executive Fire Officer certificate from the National Fire Academy.

In his down time, the Chief enjoys reading and a variety of sports including hiking, biking, and snowboarding. He currently resides in Bountiful with his wife and three children.

“I have to say I found a career I love. For me, at least, it’s been much better than chasing taillights.”

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