Fire Chief Brian Marquardt, left, and Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Alton Polk were the guest speakers at the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce coffee hour July 25.

Fire Chief Brian Marquardt, left, and Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Alton Polk were the guest speakers at the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce coffee hour July 25.

Photo by Maria Allard Eastpointe

Eastpointe chamber event focuses on fire safety, insurance tips

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 8, 2023


EASTPOINTE — Since Jan. 1, “the state of Michigan has had 68 fire deaths and 64 fires,” according to Eastpointe Fire Chief Brian Marquardt.

“The locations of those fires: 39% of those were bedrooms, 27% in the living room, and 15% were in the kitchen and 19% were in other areas of the house,” Marquardt said.

According to Marquardt, most of the fires occurred from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Sunday “is actually the deadliest day of the week for house fires.”

Marquardt, who became the fire chief in March, shared those statistics during the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce coffee hour held the morning of July 25 at the Eastpointe Fire Station on Nine Mile Road, east of Gratiot Avenue. About 30 community members, including business owners and city officials, attended the event. State Sen. Veronica Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe, and state Rep. Kimberly Edwards, D-Eastpointe, were among those in attendance.

“Nobody ever plans on having a house fire or a business fire, but they happen. They happen for various reasons. It could be electrical. It could be something that was left on. It could be purposefully set,” said Marquardt, reminding those in attendance of the importance of having working smoke detectors.

“Smoke detectors have been proven to save your life. They will alert you to wake up and to be able to get out of the house,” the fire chief said. “They’re relatively cheap. The cheapest ones I’ve seen are at Home Depot. Most of them are going to a 10-year lithium battery so you don’t have to change them for 10 years. One smoke detector is better than no smoke detectors at all.”

Marquardt added that a smoke detector should be in every room in the house, including the basement. He also stressed the importance of insurance for homeowners, renters and business owners.

“At 2 in the morning, your entire livelihood could be gone. If you rent your home, make sure you have renter’s insurance. The owner of the structure is going to rebuild that structure or tear it down (depending) on how bad the fire is. They’re not going to replace the objects in there,” Marquardt said. “If you’re a business, if you’re leasing your property from somebody else, they’ll have insurance on the structure, but everything that’s inside that’s yours; they’re not going to cover that. Make sure you have insurance, if that’s your livelihood, that it’s going to be covered.”

Marquardt began working as an on-call firefighter in 1999. In 2001, he was hired full-time. He became fire marshal in 2019 and is now the fire chief.

The coffee hour also gave attendees the opportunity to hear from Fire Marshal Alton Polk, who is also the deputy fire chief.

“My job function is basically three facets. I do investigations, inspections and fire prevention,” Polk said. “If there’s a fire in the city, I respond to the fire, take pictures, talk to the homeowners, talk to the business owners, look for any evidence.”

He also conducts annual inspections for businesses.

“If you’re a business owner within the city, don’t be surprised if you see me come in one day during normal business hours to take a look at your business and make sure everything is going well,” Polk said. “I am also available to any business owner, any resident in the city anytime with any questions they have.”

Polk focuses on fire prevention in October, which is National Fire Prevention Month.

“We do that within the elementary schools. We focus on kindergarten through third grade. We read to them. We put on a puppet show. We do a lot of fire planning for families,” Polk said. “We teach them everything they need to know in case there’s a fire in their home. We try to focus on the younger kids and build it up as they get older. That way they have that growing up and they have the knowledge to be safe.”

The next Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce coffee hour will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Aug. 24 at the Eastpointe Community Gardens, 16425 Nine Mile Road. Edwards will be the guest speaker. For more information, call (586) 776-5520 or Chamber members attend for free; the cost is $5 for nonmembers.