Kraegenbrink Promoted to Battalion Chief at MFD

John Kraegenbrink’s wife, Kelly, pins him during the badge-pinning ceremony celebrating his promotion to Battalion Chief. Tina L. Scott photo.


John Kraegenbrink was promoted to Battalion Chief – Operations at the Merrill Fire Department (MFD) during a badge-pinning ceremony on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, at the Merrill Fire Station. His wife, Kelly, did the honors of pinning his new badge to his uniform as daughters, Brooklyn and Korina, looked on. He also received his new helmet.
Oct. 30 was his first day serving in the new role. “As the Battalion Chief in charge of B Crew, he will supervise six Firefighter/Paramedics and be responsible for the overall, daily operations of the Merrill Fire Department when on duty,” Fire Chief Josh Klug said in a prepared statement. “Additionally, John will handle lead coordination of the MFD’s public education/relations division and station facilities division.”
Kraegenbrink, a 1995 graduate of Merrill High School, and joined the MFD in 2002. Prior to that, he was a member of the Town of Russell Fire Department.
“In the fall of 2020, Kraegenbrink competed with four other internal candidates of the Department for top spot on the eligibility list for Battalion Chief,” Klug said. “The promotional process was very extensive, including a written test, peer review, two separate interview panels, writing assignment, and assessment center. The process was one of the most comprehensive processes in department history.”
“While all four candidates performed well in the process, Kraegenbrink topped the list,” he said. “The Merrill Police and Fire Commission officially approved Chief Klug’s recommendation to approve Kraegenbrink at their October meeting of this year.”

John Kraegenbrink. Photo courtesy of the Merrill Fire Department.

Kraegenbrink has been with the MFD for 19 years. During that time, he completed many training courses including ice and swiftwater rescue, confined space rescue, hazardous materials, incident command courses, fire investigations, and ICS 100 – 800. He holds state certifications/license of Firefighter I & II, EMT-Paramedic, Driver/Operator – Pumper & Aerial, Fire Inspector, Emergency Services Instructor, and Fire Officer I & II. He also recently attended fire and arson investigation training in Stevens Point.
Kraegenbrink has also been organizing and improving the MFD’s fire prevention program for the last several years and was instrumental in changing the program last year “to meet students’ needs during the COVID pandemic by moving all classes to virtual classrooms.” He has also been President of the Merrill Firefighters Local 847 union for many years.
“Kraegenbrink’s personnel folder is full of his various accomplishments and commendations,” Klug said. “Many have shared their appreciation and thankfulness of John’s dedicated service to the Merrill community. This past August, John was noted for his thoughtful service following a car accident. The driver was on her way home from the grocery store when the accident occurred. When she was transported to the hospital by the ambulance crew, John finished taking the groceries to her home. This selfless act is a good example of John’s character.”
Community is important to Kraegenbrink. His active involvement with the former MDA softball tournament and Pine Crest New Year’s party is evidence of that. He also helps his wife, Kelly, with Project Linus, an organization that collects and distributes blankets to people in need.
When he’s not on duty at the MFD or focusing on community events, Kraegenbrink enjoys spending time with his family, going to his daughters’ sporting events and figure skating shows, taking family trips, and camping at Fox Fire Campground in Arbor Vitae.
“We know that Battalion Chief Kraegenbrink will continue to work hard and give Merrill his very best,” Klug said.

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