Ricketts assigns Labor Department official to helm Fire Marshal’s Agency

September 27, 2018

Gov. Pete Ricketts has appointed a Labor Department official to serve as the next state fire marshal, effectively putting one small state agency under management of a larger one.

Chris Cantrell will continue in his role as director of the Labor Department’s safety division after his appointment as fire marshal takes effect Oct. 15.

He replaces Fire Marshal Jim Heine, who announced his retirement plans in July. Heine’s last day is Sept. 30. Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Hohbein will lead the agency during the two-week interim.

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said, despite Cantrell’s appointment, the governor does not plan for the Labor Department to absorb the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The state remains without a permanent director of the Nebraska Energy Office, which is also being led by an official from another, larger state department. Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy has served as interim director of the Energy Office since David Bracht left Aug. 1 to return to private law practice.

Heine spent 28 years with the fire marshal’s office, including five years as state fire marshal.

Cantrell, 47, has been with the Labor Department since 2007.

As safety division director, he oversees the state’s inspection programs for elevators, boilers and amusement park rides. He also will continue to serve directly as program manager for the boiler inspection program.

As fire marshal, he’ll oversee fire inspections and investigations, as well as enforcement of state fire code and safety restrictions related to natural gas pipelines and storage of fuel tanks.

He previously worked as a nuclear inspector in the private sector and was a surface ship nuclear propulsion plant operator in the U.S. Navy.

Cantrell’s salary will be $105,000.

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