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West Bend names Deputy Chief Beistle as Interim Chief as new chief announcement pending

West Bend, WI – The West Bend Police and Fire Commission named Deputy Chief Chuck Beistle as interim fire chief, and at a later date will discuss possible action regarding hiring a new full-time fire chief.

The commission went into closed session to review the background report on a potential Fire Chief and considered appointment of an interim chief. According to the head of the Police and Fire Commission Nancie Heaps, the timing of the announcement of a new chief may be in a couple of weeks.

“Our offer has been made but there are a lot of due diligence items that still have to go through which includes backgrounds, physical, drug testing and we do all that before we announce who our new fire chief is,” said Heaps.

West Bend Fire and Rescue

The timing for the next full-time chief is not jiving with the retirement of Chief Gerald Kudek whose last day is May 27, 2023.

“We did select Chuck Beistle as the interim chief,” said Heaps. “The new chief has already been selected but we probably won’t get back together as a commission because he’s already been selected. That background check is so important, but we have about half of it completed.”

Heaps did not release the name of the incoming chief. Sources say the next chief is from outside the department however Heaps would not confirm. “Gerry’s last day is Friday and then Chuck Beistle will step in in the interim,” she said.

WashingtonCountyInsider.com first reported April 4, 2023, Deputy Chief Chuck Beistle threw his hat in the ring for the job as West Bend Fire Chief.

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The Police and Fire Commission has gone outside the community in the past when it hired Jim Vest in 2000; Vest hailed from Oak Park, Illinois. Vest retired from Oak Park as a battalion chief when he was 53. Vest retired as chief in West Bend at 65.

Kudek was Battalion Chief before taking over when Vest stepped down after 12 years in December 2012. At that time Kudek was one of four candidates to apply for the job; all who applied were from within the department.

Beistle has been with the WBFD for 30 years. He’s been Deputy Chief since July 2016.

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“Obviously Chuck is well qualified,” said Kudek. “He was my righthand man for a lot of years and I appreciate all his effort and support.”

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According to Kudek the next steps for the department overall includes work on EMS, community paramedicine, and more training.

“We have great equipment and technology but will need to continue to invest more in the people,” said Kudek.

Chief Kudek is stepping down May 27, 2023 after 38 years of service.

Chuck, fire, Beistle
New interim West Bend Fire Chief Chuck Beistle 

The naming of a new interim chief comes as communities across Washington County recognize National Emergency Medical Services Week.

Kudek is stepping out at 58 years old.

In the past, the tradition of promoting from within dates to the 1800’s when Chief George Kuelthau joined the fire department June 2, 1890. He was assistant chief from 1896 to 1914 and was elected fire chief in 1915 when Chief Boden unexpectedly passed away.

Chief George Kuelthau

Beistle is a member of Holy Angels Parish and is active in the community.

On a history note: How many previous fire chiefs can you name for the West Bend FD?

Let’s get you started: Kudek, Vest, Ray Roskopf, Brian Mayer, Bill Oelhafen…



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