DOJ appoints new fire marshal and chief medical officer | 406 Politics

Montana State Press Office

Dirk Johnson has been named the state fire marshal and Dr. Walter Kemp is the state’s new chief medical examiner, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the state Department of Justice.

“I am proud to promote two experienced employees to lead two very important offices in the Montana Department of Justice,” Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in the statement. “I am confident that they will continue to embody our commitment to public safety in their new roles.”

Johnson has been the acting state fire marshal since August. Prior to that, he was an assistant fire marshal and prior to joining the DOJ’s Criminal Investigations Division, he worked as a fire marshal for the city of Great Falls. As fire marshal, he directs the DOJ’s Fire Prevention and Investigation Section, which oversees fire prevention and investigation work at hundreds of state agencies.

Kemp, who previously served as the state’s deputy medical examiner, will take over in May for the removal of Dr. Rob Kurtzman. Before coming to Montana, he taught medical students as an associate professor in North Dakota and did autopsies for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

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The state medical examiner’s offices are part of the department’s forensic science division and provide autopsy services and death investigation resources to county coroners, law enforcement, and county prosecutors.