Dilger installed as new St. Henry fire chief


ST. HENRY — The St. Henry Volunteer Fire Department will begin a new chapter in 2020 after the installation last week of a new fire chief.


After more than 31 years as a firefighter, including 23 years as St. Henry’s chief, Steve Eckert recently made the decision to step away from the fire service.

During the department’s December meeting Tuesday, the members voted in Kurt Dilger, 50, St. Henry, as the new fire chief.

Dilger, who works at Reinke Farm Supply, Dale, had been the department’s First Assistant Chief/EMS Coordinator/First Responder.

Next year marks Dilger’s 24th anniversary as a St. Henry firefighter. Being elevated to chief after being second in command was not a shock.

“I figured when Steve was going to hang it up I was going to get it next,” Dilger said.

Dilger, who is not married, enjoys outside activities like hunting and fishing. He says he loves living in St. Henry and is looking forward to continuing to improve the department and find new recruits.

Eckert says continued growth had always been his goal for St. Henry’s fire department.

The department incorporated in 1981, starting with a 30-year-old, donated rescue truck and a rusted out Ford pickup as a brush truck, all located in a shared, rented building.

St. Henry’s firefighters started refurbishing trucks and former Chief Tom Kessens and Treasurer Vic Begle successfully worked to get the fire department in a modern, three-bay station with room for storage and meetings.

Eckert remembers his first meeting as fire chief was actually the first meeting in the department’s new station. Today, the department’s four trucks and other equipment should be considered as good as any in the area, Eckert says.

During the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter Assocation’s District 18 Fire Prevention Parade in October in St. Meinrad, St. Henry’s refurbished, giant Pierce Dash pumper/tanker was voted the best late-model fire truck. It is one of the largest pumper/tanker trucks in the county.

Eckert says he feels good about where the department is at and is grateful to Dilger for accepting the challenge as new chief.

“I would not have been able to do anything if it wasn’t for the good people we’ve had as members, firefighters and EMS staff over the years,” Eckert said. Now, he added, there will be fresh ideas and new ways to “keep the department growing in order to best protect our community of St. Henry.”

In addition to Dilger being named chief, the other officers selected at Tuesday’s meeting were:

First Assistant Chief — Rodney Gogel.

Second Assistant Chief — Matt Steckler.

Secretary — Brian Kunkler.

Treasurer — Chad Vonderheide.

Equipment Manager — Brent Tobin.

Safety Director — Mark Luebbehusen.

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