COUNCIL BLUFFS — For the first time in nearly 20 years, a new fire chief will call the shots in Council Bluffs after Alan Byers retires Friday.

Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan announced Tuesday that Assistant Chief Larry Wohlers will be acting fire chief starting Saturday.

Wohlers, a 30-year veteran of the department, currently serves as the fire marshal in the department’s investigation bureau.

He will serve as the interim fire chief until a new mayor is elected in November. He said he has no interest in becoming the permanent chief.

“I have no plans to apply for the position, and I told the mayor that during my interview,” said Wohlers, 56. “I’m hoping to retire in 3½ years, so there is no reason for me to pursue the chief position.”

Under the firefighters’ pension program, Wohlers would have to declare his intention to retire three years before his retirement date and be placed in the “drop program.” Once in the drop program, your three highest paid years are capped, meaning if Wohlers were to become chief, his pension would not reflect his pay as chief.

Wohlers said he expects to remain active chief for five or six months. After a new mayor is elected, a search will likely begin right away for the next chief.

“By the end of January, I would expect that process should be complete,” Wohlers said.

Fire inspector Curtis McKeon will serve as acting fire marshal in the investigation bureau.

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