EATON — Eaton Fire & EMS Chief Jack Royer will retire in September after a decade in Eaton and 42 years in the fire and emergency medical service field.
“It’s been a wonderful career, and the timing is good,” he said.
Royer began as a volunteer firefighter in a small rural town in southern Michigan where his father served as chief. Additional training led to EMT certification and a position with the City of Three Rivers, Michigan. Over the next eight years, he worked his way up to assistant chief before a deputy chief position beckoned in nearby Kalamazoo.
Royer first came to Ohio to work as assistant chief of training for the fire department in Worthington, a northern suburb of Columbus. There, he married his wife, Betsy, and after teaching stints in Colorado Springs and Cincinnati, and an assistant chief job in Springboro, he accepted the mantle of chief in Eaton.
When Royer arrived in Eaton, the city’s fire and EMS departments were two separate divisions and largely volunteer-based. His leadership combined them into one and transitioned the sector into one comprised of paid and part-time positions along with its volunteers.
“Chief Royer’s leadership was instrumental in consolidating the Fire and EMS operations,” said Eaton City Manager Brad Collins. “The chief is passionate about safety services and has done a great job leading the organization.”
Said Royer, “Coming to Eaton was a good thing for me, and for the family. And,” he said of his staff, “we’ve done a lot of good work here. Now, we’re in a transitional period where the next phase will take several years to implement, so I think now’s the time to bring in someone newer who’ll keep things moving forward. That sort of things needs more energy than I can bring now. I don’t think I’m old by any stretch of the imagination — I still feel like I’m in my forties — but the time feels right. I’ll have 10 years here in Eaton in September, and I’ll cap my career with that.”
After Royer announced his retirement in spring, the city advertised his position for applications in June. This month, candidates will be selected for assessment and interviews, with plans to select a new chief in August.
The Royers will relocate to North Carolina. “My wife’s family is out there,” he said. “Her mom is getting up in years, and we want to be able to spend some time with her. We’re going to go sightseeing, fishing. We’re both scuba divers, so we’ll be looking for warm water to follow that pleasure. They say you should enjoy those kind of activities while you’re able, so we’re gonna give it a shot.”