Chief T. John Cunningham has over twenty-one years’ experience in the public safety field. He is presently the Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director for the City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a vibrant and diverse community of over 81,000. The department handles more than 9,400 calls for service annually with a combination of full-time and paid on-call staff. Prior, Chief Cunningham was the Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director for the City of Elk River, Minnesota. He is also the President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
Prior to moving to Minnesota in 2009, Chief Cunningham was a volunteer district chief for a combination fire department in Greenwich, Connecticut, and one of the original members of the Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. He also worked in the private sector, owning a successful IT consulting firm.
During 2015 I was part of an LTE Public Safety Broadband Trail Project involving public and private partners. This trial project took place in the City of Elk River. Chief Cunningham provided excellent leadership and passion for this cutting edge technology. Subsequent to this project Chief Cunningham has provided educational outreach at conferences and at other training sessions regarding the national Public Safety Broadband Network, commonly know as FirstNet. Chief Cunningham’s passion for innovation and technology advancement are exceptional. John Cunningham would be an excellent President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
I have worked with John Cunningham over the past year on a variety of work issues. I have found John to be a dedicated, intelligent and self-motivated professional with high levels of personal and professional integrity. In addition to John’s leadership and emergency management skills as Fire Chief, he strives to continually improve work performance. John takes the initiative to tackle challenges to streamlined department operations, increase performance and improve accountability. In addition to successfully managing his position responsibilities, John has made significant and positive contributions to many other areas of the city. John is highly respected and a valued leader
I have been employed with the Elk River Police Department for 24 years. Chief Cunningham is the third Fire Chief I have worked with. Like his two predecessors, Chief Cunningham is professional, knowledgeable and committed to his department. Chief Cunningham fosters relationships not only with other Fire Departments, but with all of the local, county and State Law Enforcement agencies that fall within his fire district. I have personally worked many scenes with Chief Cunningham, and he is always willing to assist the Police Department in any way he can. I would not hesitate to recommend Chief Cunningham for the position of President of the MSFCA. He will bring a new level of professionalism, service and excellence to the Fire Service!
To the Board of Directors and members of the MSFCA, my name is Lori Morgan and I have been with the Sherburne Co Sheriff’s Office since 1993 and was promoted to Dispatch Supervisor in 2012. I have known John Cunningham since he came to work for the City of Elk River in 2009. When John first came to work as the Fire Chief, he was not only new to Elk River but also new to us in dispatch – and as you can imagine, that can be a bit of a challenge on both sides. Once we began to build a relationship, I came to rely on John’s advice and knowledge. Because of the relationship we were able to build, it has only enhanced fire dispatching in Sherburne Co. I attend the bi-monthly fire chief’s meetings and when John is there, I know I have an ally. He was key in deciphering much of the rhetoric in the beginning and I know I can call him after a meeting for a “debriefing,” He has worked with me to set up fire training specifically designed for firefighters and dispatchers to come together to gain a better understanding of each other’s jobs and the unique challenges we both face. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for everything he has accomplished while here and I look forward to facing the challenges of our growing community and meeting those needs together. John would be an excellent President of the MSFCA!
John Cunningham gets my highest recommendation. He has consistently shown that he is a leader of high integrity, astute awareness, and possesses a compassion for humanity that goes above and beyond the call of duty. John speaks from his heart, takes inspired action and encourages others to do the same. In my experience, it is rare to meet a man of such high quality.
I have been asked to submit a letter of recommendation for John Cunningham to be considered for the next President of the Minnesota Fire Chiefs association. I am both honored to have been asked and extremely pleased to do so. I have worked for and as A City Manger for close to 50 years. During that time I have worked with fire chiefs in cities from 225,000 to 9,000 residents. The types of departments have ranged from full time professional departments, to mixed professional and paid on call to fully volunteer independent departments. All forms being unique and serving the individual and residents by protecting them and their properties. I currently serve as the President of the Coon Rapids Minnesota Police and Fire Service Civil Service Commission, allowing me to keep current with the fire service and its needs. I started working with Chief Cunningham when I became Interim City Administrator in Elk River Minnesota in 2011. John and I worked together for a little over six months and during that time we established a strong professional relationship. John was relatively new to the City as Fire Chief, having been appointed by the City Council based on his extensive fire experience in Greenwich, Connecticut. The major issue that John was facing in Elk River was the transition from a more traditional volunteer based department to a more urban fire department that would serve several cities. He was extremely skilled at articulating the needed changes and transitions as well as maintaining the necessary balance in recognizing many of the traditions and history of the Elk River volunteer department. He was able to not only present the changes needed in a clear and professional manor but also explain the benefits of the changes to the firefighters as well as the elected officials. As a manager I came to have great respect for the chief’s knowledge as well as the demonstrated leadership skills. From my perspective, The Minnesota Fire Chief Association would be well served by Having John Cunningham as its President. John is articulate, and skilled at presenting ideas in a clear professional manner. He is extremely knowledgeable in the delivery of fire protection services. He would be an exceptionally polished face for the organization and would provide skill, attention to detail, strong leadership and energy to the organization. I believe the firefighters across the state would be proud to have John represent them and would enhance the public’s current strong perception of the Minnesota Fire Service.
Please accept my enthusiastic recommendation of Chief John Cunningham for the position of President of the Minnesota State Fire Chief’s Association. I work currently in the public safety software industry in the capacity of managing engineer for all fire service products. However, I am recently retired from full time service with the City of Racine, WI Fire Department with the rank of Battalion Chief, number two in command, and having served thirty four years. I came to be introduced and then worked closely with Chief Cunningham in many difficult and challenging projects. His knowledge of the fire service and how it fits in with other emergency and non-emergency agencies in an effort to achieve goals is second to none. His technical knowledge of records management systems and how they are used to provide information and analytics is superior. Over the course of the more than four years we have been acquainted, Chief Cunningham has become my first choice when I need someone truly grounded in all aspects of the fire service. It is my hope that he will also be that asset to the great State of Minnesota!
I have had the pleasure of working with Chief Cunningham for many years in many capacities. In addition to the daily dispatcher/firefighter relationship, we have also worked together on CAD implementation and issues as well as both being members of the Sherburne County All Hazard Incident Management Team. I worked with him on the FirstNet Interoperability exercise as well as a tabletop FEMA exercise. John is always professional and courteous and is always looking for ways to make situations better, always wanting to prepare for the future, John is very knowledgeable and innovative and I have always had the utmost respect for him. I believe he is an excellent candidate for President of MSFCA and if selected would serve Minnesota.
I have worked with Chief Cunningham in many capacities including on active incidents, in an emergency operations center as well as several exercises and trainings. No matter the capacity, Chief Cunningham has always been professional, knowledgeable, committed and dependable. He has demonstrated great qualities of leadership and is always willing to learn and teach. I would highly recommend John Cunningham to lead the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
As the Prosecutor for the City of Elk River, I have had the pleasure of working alongside Chief Cunningham since 2012. In addition to the normal duties and obligations one would expect from the Fire Chief, Chief Cunningham seemed to go above and beyond as he was also responsible for Code enforcement activities for the City, including building inspections and rental inspections. Naturally, these responsibilities required great knowledge of the Building Code and the Elk River City Code, which Chief Cunningham always seemed to have a firm grasp on. While I wasn’t surprised by his vast knowledge of the Fire Code, I was impressed with his extensive comprehension of building codes and inspections, rental inspections and general Code enforcement practices and procedures. Perhaps even more impressive than his knowledge was the manner in which he addressed difficult Code related issues and uncooperative residents. Whether it was the modification of a current Ordinance or the handling of an upset resident, I always found Chief Cunningham to be calm, thoughtful and very mindful of any potential unintended consequences of actions before they were implemented. I believe his knowledge, demeanor and respectfulness towards others, while handling difficult situations, is what has earned Chief Cunningham the respect of City staff and the residents he serves. Recommending an individual for a specific position is not something I take lightly, as I believe, in some respects, this reflects upon my credibility as well. With this in mind, I have no hesitation in recommending Chief Cunningham for consideration as the President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs’ Association. I believe that through his knowledge, dedication and compassion, he has portrayed the attributes necessary for such a respected position and would be a fine role model to all firefighters.