Koepp named Interim Fire Chief

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 12, 2017



While the search is on for a new head of the Fire Department, St. Clair Shores has named its training chief, Ryan Koepp, as Interim Fire Chief.

Koepp, who has been with the department since 1998, began in the interim position July 10, more than a week after the retirement of Fire Chief George Morehouse.

City Manager Mike Smith said that the search has already begun for a permanent chief, but he met with eligible members of the department to select an interim chief who would not be interested in the permanent position so as to not create a conflict of interest when selecting a new leader.

“Everyone had a high degree of respect for Chief Koepp with (his) knowledge and experience,” Smith said, explaining that he chose Koepp “based on the fact that he was more than qualified to do it and would provide the least interruption of service to the department.”

After working in emergency medical services from 1993 to 1998, Koepp was hired as a firefighter/paramedic with the St. Clair Shores Fire Department. He was promoted to driver/engineer and then to lieutenant before being named the training chief in 2013.

“Our main objective in this interim period is to prepare our organization for an easy handoff to the next chief,” Koepp said. “Just review our current operations, improve them wherever we can ... Inspect (the stations) for safety and cleanliness and make sure we are handing over a really tight organization for the next person so they can be a success.”

The city will be looking at internal and external candidates for the permanent chief position, Smith said. Out of the last three chiefs, two — Ken Podolski and George Morehouse — came from outside the St. Clair Shores Fire Department and one — Matt Kovalcik — was promoted from within.

Smith said he does not anticipate having any difficulties finding a new chief and hopes to have one named within the next 60 days.

Koepp said residents should not notice any change in service during the transitional period.

“We just really want to communicate a lot more with the residents and with the community stakeholders and be there to answer any questions that they have during this transitional period,” he said. “They should not notice any change in the high-quality service that they’ve grown accustomed to.

“We just look forward to this opportunity to serve the community. We’re going to continue to do the best job that we can.”