By Rachel Kytonen
A Cambridge firefighter, who had only been on the volunteer fire department for 18 months, was tragically killed in what the city administrator is calling an “unfortunate accident.”
Following a training session at the Cambridge Fire Hall on Monday, May 23, firefighter Chip Imker, 35, was participating in rope rescue techniques and fell about six to eight feet onto a concrete surface around 9:30 p.m.
Imker was flown to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and died May 24, as a result of his injuries.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 28 at Cambridge-Isanti High School Gymnasium with Father James David Hahn officiating. A visitation will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 27 at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) Cambridge-Isanti High School and also one hour prior to the service on Saturday.
City Administrator Lynda Woulfe said the incident was an “unfortunate accident.”
“This doesn’t compare to anything,” Woulfe said Tuesday. “When I heard the news my heart just sank. I never want to experience another day like this.”
Woulfe explained Chip was putting his foot in a looped rope that got twisted, and the rope spread under his weight, came loose, and he fell.
Chip was a beloved father, son, brother, partner, soldier, private business owner, firefighter and coach. He is survived by his father Dick Imker and stepmother Judy Imker, mother Susan Rihs, brothers Chad and Chuck, partner Kristin Hill, and two young sons.
“Chip thoroughly enjoyed serving his community and demonstrated that by joining the Cambridge Fire Department in 2010,” according to a press release issued by the city of Cambridge. “He was a certified Firefighter I and II as well as a trained first responder.
Chip also proudly served his country as a member of the Army National Guard. In his free time, he volunteered as a wrestling coach for Cambridge-Isanti Schools.”
Imker was a 1994 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School and was a solid wrestler for the Bluejacket wrestling team from 1991-94.
The Chip Imker Firefighter Memorial Fund has been established in his memory. Donations to the memorial fund can be sent to Minnco Credit Union, 235 1st Avenue West, Cambridge, MN 55008. Checks should be made payable to Kristin Hill.
As is standard practice with all fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.