South Lyon Fire Chief Leaving For Charlottes Top Firefighting Job

South Lyon Fire Chief Robert Vogel is hoping to shake some sleeplessness by moving closer to his daughter and becoming the top firefighter for Charlotte near Lansing. 

The 53-year-old chief announced recently that his last day for South Lyon is Oct. 1.

It's quite the shakeup from a man who swore off job searching when he brought his firefighting expertise to this relatively quiet Oakland County community around the start of 2018.

He then said “this is it for me.” Vogel admitted he didn’t know then that his daughter would find a good job in the Grand Rapids area and decide with her partner to start a family there.

“My wife has really been bugging to move,” Vogel said. “Going to Charlotte gets us a lot closer. (And) we loved Charlotte.”

The decision, though, was not easy.

“When they made the offer, I was really torn,” he said. “Things are really good in South Lyon, and I’m happy here.”

Besides the family factor, the chief conceded Charlotte’s full-time firefighters helped draw him toward the middle of the state.

Ever since he began with South Lyon, he's been reliant on paid, on-call firefighters. He was able to boost his staff to 33 from about 20 through recruitment, retention and social media campaigns.

A lingering nighttime concern is whether there will be enough paid, on-call firefighters who respond to emergency calls. Calls have gone from about 700 during Vogel's first year to today's average of 1,000 a year.   

"Currently, we cover every call ," he said. "We’ve never missed a call. We’ve never had a truck not respond. At night, it could be thin staffed. It makes me very nervous. It will be the big challenge for the future fire chief.

"Knowing that I could sleep at night, knowing that there is always coverage... It kind of helped that ease of making this decision."

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While gaining more South Lyon firefighters remains one of his proudest achievements, he also is happy that he was able to secure funding for a new $1.5 million ladder truck that will replace a 20-year-old model. It should arrive in a year. 

And he seems to have worked well with Lyon Township firefighters. 

"Chief Vogel was a professional who was a pleasure to work with, and I congratulate him on his opportunity in Charlotte and wish him the best," Lyon Township Fire Chief Ken Van Sparrentak said. "I will work with his successor to continue strengthening response and response time to South Lyon and Lyon Township."

Charlotte will be Vogel's second chief's job. He had 30 years of experience fighting fires with Scio Township, Ann Arbor, Brighton and Green Oak Township before he began with South Lyon.  

South Lyon officials are still determining how they'll replace their fire chief. Vogel hopes their replacement process will conclude with his deputy chief Mike Weir becoming the new chief for an easy transition.

"The deputy chief here is a very strong leader, and I think it would be good for the department," Vogel said. "I'm just not sure what his life is and what the thoughts of the city manager are."  

The chief shared some last words for South Lyon: 

"I really, really enjoyed it. I loved working with the mayor and council, citizens and the staff. The staff is what I’ll miss the most by far. It saddens me thinking about leaving because of the the staff But sometimes life... you've got to make some decisions. That's where we're at." 

Contact reporter Susan Vela at svela@hometownlife.com or 248-303-8432. Follow her on Twitter @susanvela

Source : https://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/south-lyon/2021/09/15/south-lyon-fire-chief-leaving-charlottes-top-firefighting-job/5775130001/

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