EATON — After having served as interim fire chief since Sept. 1, 2016, Brian Smith was officially sworn in as Eaton Fire & EMS Chief during a city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
During the meeting, Mayor Dave Kirsch issued Smith his oath of office, and the new chief had his badge pinned on by his wife.
Smith is a 2001 graduate of Eaton High School and began his firefighting career in 2002 as a volunteer with Eaton. He left the force for a year in 2004 for a contract firefighting job in Iraq, but returned and was later promoted to captain in 2007.
He was unanimously appointed Interim Fire Chief by Eaton City Council to replace Fire and EMS Chief Jack Royer in 2016. On the transition from captain to interim fire chief, Smith said, “The process was pretty quick. I was appointed and had 15 days to spend with Chief Royer before he retired. And then, of course, you build relationships with the folks you work with. Now, you have elevated to a higher position, basically the head of the department. So, you have to rework those relationships a little bit and remember that you can’t act the same way as you used to when you’re with those guys. That’s been the most difficult.”
As for being a part of the department, Smith says that for him it’s very “normal,” as he grew up in the department.
“I had a grandfather who spent 25 years in the department as a volunteer,” he said. “So as a kid growing up I was always around the department. Whether it was helping out with the chicken barbecue, or fire prevention stuff, and occassionally being stuck with him when he got a call. That was always kinda fun.”
For Smith, getting the official title is just part of the job. It signifies the end of the probationary period, but will not change his duties any.
His goal for the Eaton Fire & EMS is to “keep moving in the same direction that we have been moving.” He added, “We strive to be a very competent and professional service. I think our citizens deserve the best quality service that is available. We are going to strive to continue to provide. Outside of that, our goals are to continue getting better every day at what we do.
“I think what a lot of people may take for granted in our community is that we do have very good services, across the board,” he said. “This is a pretty good place to live and a really good place to work.”
During the swearing-in ceremony, Kirsch commented, “This is one of the fun parts of my job. Seeing people like you become part of the team, part of the staff here at the City of Eaton. We’re excited to have you in charge of our great fire and EMS here in town.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH