The members of the Rockford Fire Department are professionals dedicated to provide services that are innovative and progressive, ensuring the safest environment for our community.

Fire Chief

Fire ChiefDerek Bergsten

Derek Bergsten

Derek Bergsten was sworn in as the tenth Chief of the Rockford Fire Department on November 14th, 2008. Chief Bergsten holds an Associates of Science and an Associates of Fire Science, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Organizational Development from Western University, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Northern Illinois University. In addition to many specialized fire certifications, he possesses the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) and Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO) designations from the Commission on Professional Credentialing. He is also a member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (MIFireE). Chief Bergsten serves as a board member of the Rock River Valley Food Pantry and as a volunteer at the YMCA and Rockford Public Schools.


Division Chief of Operations

Division Chief of OperationsMichele Pankow

Michele Pankow

Michele Pankow is the Division Chief of Operations. She was appointed Division Chief on February 3rd, 2017. She has been a member of the Fire Service since 1992 and has served on the Rockford Fire Department as Firefighter, EMS Operations Chief, Lieutenant, Captain, and District Chief. She is responsible for emergency operations and day to day operations for over 250 uniformed firefighters. In this role Chief Pankow is also the Rockford Emergency Services Disaster Agency Coordinator, which includes coordinating emergency disaster response and preparedness with the City of Rockford and Winnebago County. She also holds certification for Illinois Professional Emergency Manager (IPEM) and has completed the Professional Development Series from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.


Division Chief of Administration and Fire Prevention

Division Chief of Administration and Fire PreventionMatthew Knott

Matthew Knott

Matthew Knott is the Division Chief of Administration and Fire Prevention. He was appointed Division Chief on April 18th, 2009. He is responsible for planning, budgeting, and administrative functions for the Department. He is also responsible for Fire Investigations, code enforcement, and all community risk reductions efforts. Chief Knott has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology and a Master’s Degree in Safety from Northern Illinois University. He is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) by the International Association of Emergency Managers and an Illinois Professional Emergency Manager (IPEM). He also holds designations as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), and Fire Marshal (FM) from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He is also a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (MIFireE). He holds numerous fire service and law enforcement related certifications in special operations and incident management.


Division Chief of Training

Division Chief of TrainingBob Vertiz

Bob Vertiz

Bob Vertiz is the Division Chief of Training. He was appointed Division Chief on March 3rd, 2018. He is responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and supervising the Department’s fire service training program and emergency medical program. Chief Vertiz attended Rock Valley College, Northern Illinois University, and the National Fire Academy. He has been a paramedic since 1992 and is a licensed EMS Lead Instructor.


911 Division Administrator

911 Division Administrator