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Clovis fire chief takes top fire job in Lincoln, Neb.

Clovis Fire Chief Micheal Despain is taking a job in Nebraska.
Clovis Fire Chief Micheal Despain is taking a job in Nebraska. Milne Photography

Clovis Fire Chief Micheal Despain is leaving to become the new fire chief in Lincoln, Neb. His final day will be July 15.

Despain, 49, of Clovis, had worked in Clovis for 17 years before being named Fresno’s deputy chief. He spent six years in Fresno and served as interim chief before returning to Clovis almost four years ago to become chief.

Lincoln, a city of 300,000, has about 300 firefighters and 14 stations. Clovis, a city of 104,000, has 70 firefighters and five stations.

The hard part is leaving all the family and friends. We will still be back and forth to visit quite a bit.

Michael Despain, Clovis Fire Department chief

“The hard part is leaving all the family and friends,” Despain said. “We will still be back and forth to visit quite a bit.”

He said he was impressed with Lincoln’s friendliness, describing it as a high-tech hub for the Midwest with a favorable economy.

“It’s the cleanest, nicest big town I’ve ever been in my life,” he said.

Despain has been married for 21 years to his wife, Erica. The couple has a son and daughter, twin 20-year-olds.

Despain’s replacement hasn’t been named yet. John Binaski is Clovis’ deputy chief.

The announcement of Despain’s departure comes as the city is losing its engineer, Steve White. He will become Fresno County’s public works and planning director in May.

City Manager Rob Woolley said he will name interim replacements after each leaves.

“I take it as an honor that our people are well-qualified to take over these positions,” Woolley said. “A lot of institutional memory is leaving and they did themselves proud, but we have a good team that can take over.”

Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin

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