Professionally, Bonstall has been a member of the Grand Rapids Fire Department management team for four years and an officer with the department for seven. He has experience with emergency planning, hazardous material planning, and has training experience.
There are 225 full-time firefighters on the Grand Rapids department, staffing 11 stations that serve a population of 190,000. The biggest joy of being a firefighter, for Bonstall, is knowing that he can make a difference. He relishes the ability to communicate the public about fire safety, to pass on the knowledge of what the public can do to protect themselves and take a proactive approach.
When he gets to Knoxville, his top goal is to get to know each person on an individual basis. He wants to learn each member's goals and why they joined the department.
Overall, he wants to get to know Knoxville's vision and providing leadership to see it through. He is not interested in coming to town and making the department his, without respecting the wishes of those already serving the department and the community at large. Bonstall intends to reach out to the community through the media, Chamber of Commerce, schools, churches and anywhere else he can.
Bonstall is eager to pick a local church to attend. He is a Cadet Leader at his local, Christian Reformed church, and he teaches Sunday school.
Moving across the country will be difficult, but he is eager to raise his children in an environment like Knoxville's. Working in Grand Rapids has forced him to respond to violent emergencies, such as shootings, on a routine basis.
Bonstall added that he respects the job Greg Higginbotham has done, while serving as interim fire chief. Higginbotham has served in that capacity since February.
"I think Greg has done a great job," Bonstall said. "All of us together will make a stronger fire department."