Cambridge firefighter, Chip Imker, killed in tragic accident

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.”

Chip Imker



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.

A black ribbon now hangs over the bell at the Cambridge Fire Station in honor of Chip Imker. Photo by Elizabeth Sias

“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.

Flowers now grace the locker of Cambridge Firefighter Chip Imker who died May 25 after a tragic fall during a training on rope rescue techniques on Monday, May 23.

As is standard practice with all fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.

  • Dee Strombeck

    He will be greatly missed by my family. He was a stand-up guy to all. Our prayers go out to his family.

  • Tamara J. Knowles

    When my husband, Rod, said we were going to put up a pole building and had a builder picked out I was thoroughly excited, I was introduced to Chip. Chip helped build my dream. The pole building is a life dream – an indoor riding arena for my horses and my friends to come share it with. He admitted he didn’t know a thing about the “horse thing” but he always listened and shared his experience to make it work out. Nov. 2010 it was started and he and his guys braved the rough Dec. and Jan. weather to build an awesome building. Tomorrow, May 25, I will ride my horse in it, for the first time ever, in honor of a very special young man, father, family man, soldier, and so much more. His family is in my prayers, and many others. He will be missed by many, including his lunch trips to the Brass Rail and visiting with Rod.

  • Marikay Mell

    Chip was a great man and will be greatly missed. I grew up near him and he road my Dad’s school bus. His family is in our prayers.

  • Cheryl

    RIP CHIP you will be forever missed by all

  • Jared Fuhol

    CHANGE IN CHIP IMKER’S FUNERAL…… Due to the amount of people expected this weekend, the visitation has changed from Strike to the Cambridge-Isanti HighSchool from 6pm-9m FRIDAY and the funeral is still at 11am SATURDAY at the Highschool.

  • Ashley Olson

    Although I did not personally know Chip, I have lived next door to his mother and brother for almost a year and a half now and know he will be truly missed. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they go though this difficult time.

  • natalie

    I was a part of the medical team that transplanted one of his major organs to save another man’s life. It breaks my heart to hear this, my husband is also a fireman, at least we know another man’s life was spared thanks to him. I will pray for his family and their healing.

  • Joel Maue

    I did not know Chip, but I plan on attending his funeral @ the Cambridge High School.

    I have lived in Grandy for 11 years, which he was volunteering to protect. I am praying for his family in their time of grieving.

    Rest In Peace Chip.