Testimonials

I have never met anyone that has the drive and determination that T. John has.  I watched him grow from a young Fire Explorer into a very well trained and respected leader of the Sound Beach Vol. Fire Department. His always puts in 110% into any task that is assigned to him or that is takes on. This is demonstrated by him becoming a member of the CT Task Force and his service during the attacks of 9/11. T.John is a true leader and I would recommend him for ANY type of leadership position in the public service area.

David D'ArinzoAssistant Chief (retired)Sound Beach Volunteer Fire DepartmentGreenwich, CT

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.

Robert D. ThistleInterim City Administrator

I find it difficult to expand on the numerous testimonials already speaking to Johns many positive attributes. End of the day you want people like John to be part of your team. All organizations, to which John served over his career, should feel blessed to have received the time they did.

Justin FemriteCity EngineerCity of Elk RiverElk River, MN

John is a very highly motivated and high energy person that I have had the opportunity to work with on several occasions. He has excellent knowledge of emergency management and the fire service. John is always willing to help out when the need arises. This was evidenced on March 8, 2017 when John volunteered his time/resources to help Sherburne County Emergency Services Director K. Breffle with the preliminary damage assessment process during the assessment/recovery phase from the March 6, 2017 EF 1 tornado that struck Sherburne County.

Without a doubt, John Cunningham is fully qualified to lead the Minnesota State Fire Chief’s Association into the future as its President.

Joe SchanenDeputy SheriffSherburne County Sheriff's OfficeElk River, MN

John Cunningham is an experienced and well respected fire chief and emergency management professional.  He has vast knowledge in both the technical and management aspects of his profession. His dedication, high ethical standards, and expertise make him a strong, confident, and effective leader.

Lori J.

I have known T. John Cunningham since he was a young member of the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department. As the Assistant Chief of the Greenwich Fire Department, I was fortunate to witness his professional growth in the Fire Service as he matured and rose thru the officer ranks. His dedication to those he protected was unmatched. His constant drive to always improve the rescue skills of the fire fighters in the department was impressive. His mastery, and sharing, of all of the his Technical Rescue skills helped create a first class Technical Rescue team that responded town wide. As an Instructor, he demonstrated a unique ability to make difficult concepts easily understood and remembered.

When I was informed that he was being considered for Chief of Elk River, I was both sad that we were losing his talents, and really happy for him and the residents of Elk River. It is my opinion that It would be difficult to find a better qualified, or more dedicated, leader for Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association than T. John Cunningham.

Mike PuterbaughAssistant Chief (ret.)Greenwich Fire DepartmentGreenwich, CT

It is with great honor that I get to work with Fire Chief Cunningham and also call him a mentor and friend. Chief is dedicated and passionate about his career, family, and friends. As a mentor Chief has taught me a lot about communications in crisis, technology in communications, and I even had the opportunity to follow the 2015 Fire Academy and document their journey. His ability to read and be aware of what is going on with the people around him and what their needs may be not only comes in handy for his job but in his home life. Chief Cunningham has opened up his work and personal life through the creation of the Elk River Blue Ribbon Challenge to impact lives of the residents of Elk River and beyond. He has taken risks to share pieces of his life and touching the hearts of many along the way. Chief has shown great bravery in taking these risks to impact lives to make sure that everyone knows that every life matters, that we can live in a culture of appreciation, love, and respect, and that “Who I Am Makes A Difference®” Chief Cunningham is a strong leader, a great mentor, and treasured friend who will always have your back!

RaeAnn GardnerCommunications CoordinatorCity of Elk RiverElk River, MN

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.

Scott BaumgartnerProsecutorCity of Elk River

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.

Kyle BreffleDirector of Emergency ServicesSherburne County Sheriff's OfficeElk River, MN

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.

Laura AndersonDispatch SupervisorSherburne County Sheriff's OfficeElk River, MN