History of Fire Chiefs
The fire service has historically had a chain of command in order to fight fires more efficiently. The Fire Chief is involved intricately throughout all aspects of the Fire Department. Originally founded in 1908 the Meridian Fire Department has only had 8 Fire Chiefs.
Leroy Adams - Chief from 1908 to approximately 1911
Leroy Adams had become the first Meridian Fire Chief. He had 19 members of the volunteer company including Jacob Eames who would later become the second Fire Chief. There is not much known about Leroy Adams.
July 11th, 1908 - Fire Test Satisfactory - The test was pronounced thoroughly satisfactory and the boys were delighted that they immediately organized a volunteer fire company with Leroy Adams as Chief. Click here for the full article.
Jacob Eames - Chief from 1911 to approximately 1924
Jacob Eames took over the Fire Chief position in 1911. That same year the 550lb, 36” cast steel fire bell was purchased for $52.50 and was placed in the Water Works Plant. Click here for further information about the bell. There is not a clear date of when Chief Eames stepped down as Chief, but according to an article from 1924, Amos Whiteley had taken over as Fire Chief.
Amos Whiteley - Chief from approximately 1924 to 1936
An article from the Meridian Times states that in January of 1924, the “New Fire Truck Ready for Service in Meridian”. Click here to view full article. Amos Whiteley was Fire Chief and Ira Voorhees was Assistant Chief. He owned a blacksmith shop as was a mechanic. It is estimated that he held the Fire Chief position for 12 years until handing the title over to Meridian Fire’s Assistant Chief, Ira Voorhees. “There have been many fireman in what you would call the good old days, but none who gave more long and interested service than Amos Whiteley. There were mighty few fires that he missed.” - Meridian Times May 29, 1936. Click here to view the full article.
Ira Voorhees - Chief from approximately 1936 to 1945
Ira Voorhees was the Assistant Chief to Chief Whiteley in 1924 when a new fire engine was put into service. There is not a clear date of when he made the transition into his new role as Fire Chief, but an article from May of 1936 states that “The present Chief is Ira Voorhees who has been a member of the volunteers for about fifteen years.” - Meridian Times, May 29, 1936. During 1936 Chief Voorhees had nine volunteers under his command. It is estimated that he held the position of Fire Chief for 9 years and spent a total of 24 years as a part of the Meridian Volunteer Fire Company.
Roger Welker - Chief from 1945 to 1983
Chief Welker saw the most change during his time as Meridian Fire Chief, partly because of the growth within the city and partly because he was the Fire Chief longer than any other in Meridian Fire Department history. During the 38 years that Welker was Chief, he formed a partnership with the Rural Fire District in order to protect and serve the citizens within the city and rural areas. Not realizing it at the time, this partnership is very significant and continues today.
He oversaw the building of a centralized fire station on North Meridian and Broadway. He also oversaw the addition of Rescue One, a volunteer response team which was organized in 1976 to cover medical emergencies and did so for 18 years. As the department grew and the needs of the citizens within the Meridian Fire District became great, Chief Welker hired the first full-time employee, Ray “Skip” Voss. Skip was hired in 1977 and served as Fire Marshal.
Kenny Bowers - Chief From 1984-2005
Chief Bowers joined the Meridian Fire Department in 1972 as a volunteer firefighter. He worked through the ranks and was appointed acting Chief in 1984. He served in this capacity part-time until 1992 when he then moved into the position full-time. Chief Bowers hired the first full-time firefighter, Steve Gempler, in 1992. In 1999, Assistant Chief Joe Silva, in charge of operations and training came aboard. The department has grown enough by 2000 that Chief Bowers hired the first administrative assistant, Greta Seals.
Under Chief Bowers’ direction, Meridian Fire built 3 new fire stations, and equipped them with the necessary apparatus. Chief Bowers was instrumental in starting the Thermal Imaging Program, the Defibrillator Program and establishing Meridian Fire’s Safety Center which opened in 2005. Also, in 2005, Chief Bowers agreed to have Ada County Paramedics move into Fire Station 2 to aid Ada County in their response times to the area of the city. In April of 2005 he became the Department’s Assistant Fire Chief and then in 2006 he joined the Fire Prevention Division as our Fire Inspector. He is passionate about Life Safety in the Meridian community for citizens, and continues to be the face of the Department as he inspects businesses and serves our community.
Ron Anderson - Chief from 2005-2010
Chief Anderson began his fire service career in 1977 as a paid on-call firefighter with the Cole-Collister Fire Protection District (North Ada County Fire a & Rescue). He was hired as a full-time firefighter with Nampa Fire Department in 1981 and worked as a Firefigher, Driver/ Operator, Training Officer, Division Chied and Assistant Chied. He was appointed to Fire Chief of Nampa in January of 1999. Under his leadership, Nampa Fire Department built a new combination police/ fire sub-station, implemented an Advanced Life-Support Paramedic Engine Company Program, and lowered its ISO rating to a Class 2. While Chief at Nampa Fire, he also served as an interim Fire Chief for Kuna Fire in 2004.
Chief Anderson accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Meridian in April of 2005. Under his direction, Meridian Fire was also successful in adding a Paramedic Engine Company Program to the department. He oversaw the completion of 2 new fire stations and a state of the art Training Tower. The Department also acquired its first aerial ladder truck. In addition, Meridian lowered its ISO rating to a protection class 3 in June of 2009.
Chief Anderson was voted Idaho Firefighter of the year in 1995 and also voted twice as Canyon County Firefighter of the year. Chief Anderson was instrumental in establishing the Idaho Regional Hazardous Material Teams for the Stat of Idaho, which now has 7 teams throughout the State. He trained many of the initial team members and served as Team Leader for the Nampa/ Caldwell Team from 1993-2004. Chief Anderson was a strong advocate of firefighter training throughout his career instructing and developing many course that are still in use today. He served on the board of directors of the Idaho State Fire School for 16 years and served as the legislative chair for the Idaho Fire Chief’s Association. Governor Kempthorne appointed Chief Anderson to serve on the Medal of Honor Commission for the State of Idaho in July 2004. Chief Anderson also served a 4 year term as Councilmen for the City of Meridian from 1998-2002. He is a long-time resident Meridian graduating from Meridian High School in 1976.
Mark Niemeyer - Chief 2010 - Present
Chief Niemeyer was born in Seattle, WA and graduated from Bothell High School. He attended Central Washington University where he completed his paramedic program. From 1993 to 2007 Chief Niemeyer worked both as a Field Paramedic and volunteer firefighter, and in 2007 left Ada County Paramedics as an EMS Battalion Chief after accepting the position of Deputy Chief of EMS for the Meridian Fire Department.
In 2010, Chief Niemeyer was named Fire Chief for the Meridian Fire Department by Mayor Tammy de Weerd and was confirmed by the City Council. Chief Niemeyer leads a team of 77 highly dedicated staff that provide exemplary service to the citizens of the City of Meridian and the Meridian Rural Fire Protection District.
The Chief has been involved in the City’s Emergency Management and Preparedness activities, was a steering committee member for the City of Meridian’s Strategic Plan, and is a board member for both the Ada County/City Emergency Services System as well as the Southwest Fire/EMS Chiefs Association. Outside of Meridian, Chief Niemeyer is actively involved in local and state issues that involve the fire service. He is a past president of the Idaho Fire Chief’s Association EMS Division, has served as a committee member for the National Fire Protection Agency, served as a District Director for the Idaho Fire Chief’s Association, and is currently Idaho’s representative to the Western Fire Chief’s Association.
Most importantly Chief Niemeyer has been married for 23 years to his wife Cheryl, with two incredible kids that he couldn’t be more proud of.
If you or anyone you know has information or photographs pertaining to the Meridian Fire Department’s history, please contact us - 208-888-1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We have over 100 years of history to gather and welcome any assistance available.