Ben Andersen on Tuesday was appointed deputy fire chief for the Somers Fire and Rescue Department, effective Aug. 1, and is poised to take over for Chief Carson Wilkinson when Wilkinson retires this fall, pending the village Fire Commission’s approval in September.
Wilkinson, who has served as fire chief for Somers for over five years, will work closely with Andersen for the next few months through the on-boarding process.
Jeff Johnson, chair for the Somers Fire Commission, said Andersen’s future-oriented and driven attitude set him apart from other candidates during the interview process.
“He’s definitely someone that’s forward thinking,” Johnson said. “He had the most ideas moving forward to help the Somers Fire Department.”
Andersen, who has been with the department for about seven years and in the fire service for about 15, said his passion for the job and strong connections to the community helped boost his resume. He currently holds the rank of captain and serves as the team leader for the Kenosha County Dive Team.
“I live and breathe firefighting,” Andersen said. “I want to see Somers Fire Department and Somers as a village improve.”
In regard to his plans for the department in the coming years, Andersen said he hopes to find funding to hire additional full-time firefighters and expand the number of paid on-call members. The department has struggled with a lack of personnel in recent years as the village continues to grow.
“Somers as a community is growing very rapidly,” Andersen said. “We need to grow with that demand.”
Johnson said part of the issue was that Somers was “almost too good” at training firefighters, as members would often move to other fire departments for full-time work. Johnson said this will be one of the major problems Andersen will face as the new fire chief.
“It’s going to be a bigger department that’s going to need greater manpower,” Johnson said. “He’s a good pick and I think he’ll do well.”