Fire chief killed on duty wins top MI honor

Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Switalski
An undated courtesy photo of Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Switalski.

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan fire chief killed while responding to a call has won one of the highest honors in the state.

Comstock Township Fire Chief Ed Switalski was named the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire Chief of the Year award during a ceremony Wednesday night.

Association president Michael O’Brian said Switalski was nominated before and after his death last month.

Left to right: Mike O’Brian, MAFC president and Brighton Area Fire District chief; Matthew Beauchamp, Comstock Fire acting fire chief; Mike Dyer, Comstock Fire acting assistant chief, accept the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire Chief of the Year award on behalf of late Comstock Township Fire Chief Ed Switalski. (July 12, 2017)

“Ed was truly a visionary leader who was developing firefighters and leaders every day,” O’Brian said in an email to 24 Hour News 8.

O’Brian said Switalski’s involvement as a responder and leader of the association as well as a planning section chief with the Michigan Mutual Aid Box Alarm Association were key in his nomination.

On June 14, Switalski was hit and killed by a passing vehicle while responding to two crash calls on eastbound I-94 near mile marker 81, Kalamazoo County authorities said.

Hundreds of police officers and firefighters from across the Midwest turned out for his funeral.

Switalski took over as Comstock Township fire chief in 2013, when he moved from Illinois to West Michigan to be closer to his daughters, who were attending Western Michigan University.