Clinton Township Fire Department Lt. Timothy Duncan stands in front of the Board of Trustees Dec. 18 after being approved as the next fire chief. He will replace current Chief Mike Phy on Jan. 20, 2018.

Clinton Township Fire Department Lt. Timothy Duncan stands in front of the Board of Trustees Dec. 18 after being approved as the next fire chief. He will replace current Chief Mike Phy on Jan. 20, 2018.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

Clinton Township fire chief announces retirement

Lieutenant to take over in January 

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 22, 2017

 Fire Chief Mike Phy

Fire Chief Mike Phy

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Mike Phy accomplished all of his personal goals, and then some.

The Clinton Township fire chief recently announced that after more than three decades, he is stepping down from his post and starting the next phase of his life.

“I’ve been carrying a pager or a phone around for 40 years now, night and day, 24/7,” Phy said Dec. 18. “I’ve been in public service for all that time. I’m a little burnt out and I felt it was best for the department if I turned it over to somebody who’s got new ideas, more energy, younger. We’ve got a great candidate coming up. Who (the committee) selected is who I would have selected.”

During the Dec. 18 Clinton Township Board of Trustees meeting, Clinton Township Fire Lt. Timothy Duncan was unanimously approved by the board to take over for Phy. He will officially begin his new role as chief Jan. 20, 2018.

One of three candidates, Duncan was Phy’s recommended replacement on behalf of the Fire Chief Selection Committee, which includes Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon, Clerk Kim Meltzer, Treasurer Paul Gieleghem and Human Resources Director William Smith. All three qualified internal candidates were certified by the Police and Fire Civil Service Commission.

Phy praised Duncan’s demeanor and his ability to work with both politicians and his fellow firefighters. Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said Duncan’s leadership roles lent himself perfectly as Phy’s successor.

“(Duncan’s) a fabulous chief-to-be, and he’s actually been preparing to be chief ever since he joined the fire department. … He’s been stepping up right along. I have nothing but good things to say.”

Duncan, a lieutenant for two years, has 18 1/2 total years spent within the department. He currently operates out of Station No. 3, at Garfield and Clinton River roads.

He has done it all throughout the years, from being in charge of engines to handling emergency calls. He has also been active in Clinton Township Firefighters Local 1381, serving as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer over the years.

“It’s helped pretty much build a really good relationship with (the Board of Trustees),” Duncan said. “We’ve overcome a lot of challenges with their help.”

Phy helped get the department back to a high level of professionalism, Duncan said, adding that he believes there’s nobody better than Clinton Township firefighters.

“It’s just an unbelievable feeling because 18-plus years ago, I never anticipated this ever happening like this,” Duncan said. “Fortunately I’ve got a lot of support from the members here and the guys I work with. … I think it’s going to be a good choice for me. I’m hopeful to keep the levels going that we have right now. It’s definitely been something that you have to think hard about because it’s going to be a whole new world for me.”

Phy worked for 34 years in Clinton Township, and for 11 years in Clay Township in St. Clair County. 

Clinton Township Fire Captain Paul Brouwer said he will greatly miss Phy.

“He’s been a great leader and a great advocate for the department, as well as the fire service,” Brouwer said. “Personally, he’s been a mentor to me, as well as a great friend. He has done incredible things for our department and township.”

Now Phy is in mentoring mode. Duncan will be assigned 40-hour shifts until his first day. Then, after Jan. 19, the current chief will go back to his home on the water in Clay Township, enjoy his boat and stay busy with handyman work.

“I know I’m gonna miss this,” Phy said. “I know in a month, I’m gonna be saying, ‘Why did I do this?’ Right now, I feel burnt out, but after a month, I’m not naive enough to know I’m not gonna be missing this.”