ST. CLAIR SHORES — Some have to say goodbye to make way for others to have new opportunities, Fire Chief James Piper explained as the department wished a happy retirement to Fire Marshal M. Bodnar and swore in Scott Desmadryl, the former fire inspector, as the new fire marshal.
“It’s a bittersweet day. We’re losing Mel” as fire marshal, but Desmadryl “has been amazing this last year as fire inspector,” Piper said.
Desmadryl has served with the city of St. Clair Shores for 22 years and spent the past year taking three months of classes to earn the necessary certifications and learning as much of the history of the city’s structures as he could before Bodnar retired.
Piper said that they knew Bodnar’s retirement would create a void in the department, so he was appreciative of the City Council’s support in adding the fire inspector position back to the department for the past year so that Desmadryl could learn Bodnar’s institutional knowledge.
“There is such an amazing amount of work for the prevention bureau to do,” Piper said. “One plus one has been equaling much more than two.”
Piper said that Bodnar was a fantastic firefighter paramedic and an excellent officer before becoming the fire marshal and doing a great job in that position as well. He said that her dedication to the rules, procedures and details have made her a tremendous asset to the department.
“Mel is, in a fire marshal, what you want,” he said. “She wants to be exact. For me, as a chief, that’s been invaluable.”
Bodnar, the first female firefighter with the department, started in St. Clair Shores 25 years ago as a firefighter paramedic. She moved up through the ranks and was named fire marshal in September 2011.
“It was a long part of my life. I’ve got a lot of friends here, and family. The people you work with become your family,” she said. “We saw a lot of good things together, and I’ll miss it.
“The people in the city, the residents of the city and the workers of the city, they’re excellent people. I’m going to miss all that.”
In her retirement, Piper said that Bodnar is moving on to work for the state.
Bodnar said that with Desmadryl as fire marshal, “it’s going to be like it hasn’t missed a beat.”
“Nothing’s going to change here,” she added.
Piper said that he expects Desmadryl will continue “keeping the city safe and putting out fires before they even start.”
“Early on, it was pretty clear he was going to excel in this position,” Piper said. “It’s been great to watch that progression.”
Desmadryl said that he has enjoyed getting to work alongside and learn from Bodnar the past year and hopes, someday, to be able to do the same for another officer.
He said that he’s excited for the new position because “it’s a way to look at every side of the fire service and be able to give back in your own way.”