Freeport Fire Chief Brad Liggett started on the job July 8. In his first three months in the position, he is already familiarizing himself with the city, residents and his staff and looks forward to building on current successes at the department and the community.
Just before coming to Freeport, Liggett was with the Beloit Fire Department for 30 years serving the last 16 years as the department’s chief and emergency manager.
Liggett was born and raised in Rock Falls but has strong roots in Freeport and in his chosen career field. His great, great-grandfather was a furrier on Elk Street and kept a stable across from his house. Brad has been past his family’s house several times in the past and now feels a strong connection to his roots being back in the area. His destiny may have been predetermined as his grandfather was also a volunteer firefighter with the Amboy Volunteer Fire Department for more than 54 years. Liggett currently keeps a photo of his grandfather’s coat and badge in his Freeport Fire office.
Graduating from Rock Falls Township High School, Liggett enrolled at Beloit College with plans to attend medical school and become a trauma surgeon. As part of one of his classes, he had the chance to experience a fire-based EMS crew and watched fire scenes. From that moment, he was hooked.
With his new-found passion, he joined the US Navy Reserves and became a hospital corpsman. Everyone in the Navy trains as a firefighter which helped Liggett prepare for his career ahead. When he returned from service, he was hired by Beloit Fire in January 1989.
Liggett now resides in Freeport and enjoys spending time with his wife, Mary, their seven children, and 13 grandchildren. Outside of the fire house, he takes time to explore antique shops, repurpose furniture he has found, camping and traveling on his motorcycle.
Plans for the Future
Liggett says he has a lot of people ask why he chose to come to Freeport after a long, successful career in Beloit.
“Freeport makes it easier for me to be close to family, also I like the opportunities that exist here in the fire department and the community. This is a beautiful town that has all the right things going for it and I want to be a part of that future,” Liggett said.
While there are many great things going on at the fire department, he has set some initial goals for himself, his staff and the district. He wants to see the communications system improve for firefighter safety along with updating department policies and procedures.
Another goal he is passionate about is “growing the home team,” as he calls it. Liggett’s long-term goals include aggressively recruiting Freeport kids who have the same passion that helped him find his career. At the same time, he hopes to create a succession plan for department leadership to build continuity within the organization.
“It is difficult from the outside coming in. If we can rely on our history and the experience of existing officers, we can be more efficient in promoting a person who already has the history.”
To continue toward that goal, he hopes to increase training programs to prepare staff for leadership roles and advocate for a budget to keep firefighters safe and more efficient. To that end, he has applied for a federal FEMA grant for a new radio communication system. The current radios are non-IDLH compliant and can be dangerous for the life and health of firefighters. The new radios are made specifically for fire use. If the grant is approved, the new system could be in place by April 2020.
We welcome Chief Liggett to Freeport and look forward to working with him on many important endeavors in the future!