New fire chief wants to stay in Ferndale ‘for the rest of my career’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 1, 2019

 Jack Pesha

Jack Pesha


FERNDALE — The Ferndale Fire Department’s new chief is a familiar name, as he already has spent nearly 20 years within the city.

Jack Pesha, the city’s former fire marshal, is the new head of Ferndale’s Fire Department.

Pesha has been serving as the interim chief since late 2018, after former Chief Kevin Sullivan took a leave of absence in December. Sullivan announced his retirement after nine years this past April.

Pesha said he was “absolutely honored” to be hired as the new chief. While he knew there was some tough competition brought in during a national search, he felt he had the job because of his experience in Ferndale.

“I knew how the department worked already, so I think that helped me a lot in my interviews, and just because I have a passion for the city,” he said. “This is where I’ve been for 20 years, and this is where I want to stay for the rest of my career. So I’m very, very proud to be here to serve.”

Pesha was formally introduced as chief at the City Council’s Sept. 23 meeting. Mayor Dan Martin told the Woodward Talk that Pesha was, far and away, the superior candidate and the right fit for the city’s culture.

“He listens to his folks, he listens to his council, (and) he strives to work well with others,” he stated. “He’s not afraid to disagree, but he’s very constructive and he wants to work with people, and I like that a lot about him.”

Pesha interviewed for the job over the course of a couple of months. He described that time as “a lot to juggle,” as not only was he playing the role of fire marshal and interim chief, but also trying to study for his interviews to become the permanent chief.

As far as what he wants to accomplish at the start of his tenure, Pesha wants to conduct more outreach and start more programs about fire safety within the community. This includes getting all age groups involved.

Pesha also discussed instituting strict fire prevention codes that could make the department better and reduce the chances of fires.

“We have a young department now. I want to get them the state-of-the-art training they need to be the best they can be,” he said.

Pesha heard from Sullivan that the best thing he could do in leading the department was to lead with confidence. Pesha also wants to lead with a strong emphasis on communication with his squad.

“If they know I’m communicating with them and I know they’re communicating with me, that solves a lot of issues right there,” he said.