New Troy fire chief prepares to take helm in February

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published January 27, 2021

 Assistant Troy Fire Chief Richard “Chuck” Riesterer was appointed the new Troy fire chief by City Manager Mark Miller Jan. 11. He will begin in the new role Feb. 5.

Assistant Troy Fire Chief Richard “Chuck” Riesterer was appointed the new Troy fire chief by City Manager Mark Miller Jan. 11. He will begin in the new role Feb. 5.

Photo provided by the city of Troy

 Troy Fire Chief David Roberts will retire from his post Feb. 5.

Troy Fire Chief David Roberts will retire from his post Feb. 5.

Photo provided by the city of Troy

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TROY — A few changes will be taking place at the Troy Fire Department come February, namely to the position of fire chief.

Lifetime Troy firefighter and chief since 2015 Chief David Roberts will be stepping down from his role as fire chief Feb. 5. Roberts served with the Troy Fire Department for 42 years, beginning in December 1978.

“I’m 60 (years old). I’ll be 61 in March. It’s time for me to retire and turn the reins over while I’m still young enough and somewhat able enough to enjoy my retirement,” Roberts said of his departure from the city.

Acting Assistant Fire Chief Richard “Chuck” Riesterer was appointed to fill the open position by City Manager Mark Miller at a City Council meeting Jan. 11. Riesterer began as a volunteer firefighter in Troy in 1982, before moving around a bit to Roseville and Livonia. He eventually found his way back to Troy when he was hired as a full-time fire education specialist in 1989.

Riesterer worked his way up the ranks from there, as an inspector, lieutenant, assistant fire chief, and now finally chief of the department. He’s been a career firefighter for 38 years.

Riesterer is a National Fire Academy graduate with certifications in education and fire protection systems. He also carries a firefighting technology certificate from Oakland Community College. Riesterer is a certified firefighter, a hazardous materials responder, a certified Level 3 fire officer, and a certified firefighter instructor in Michigan.

“It’s still kind of surreal,” Riesterer said of his appointment. “I haven’t been here quite as long as (Roberts) has. I’ve only been doing this about 38 years, but it’s an awesome feeling to know that I’m in front or leading this great organization of men and women who are clearly very civic- and community-minded in that they all come from the community.”

As Riesterer prepares to take over, Roberts reminded him of the sheer demand taking on an administrative position such as fire chief can bring with it. Roberts said taking the helm requires the ability to “take the big-picture viewpoint.”

“The higher you go in an organization, the farther you get away from the reason that you joined,” Roberts said. “You have to stand back and take that overall view of the department and what’s going on and where the department needs to go.

“It’s the burden of responsibility. It really is, because you’re constantly thinking about the department.”

Riesterer, however, doesn’t expect to be surprised by much. He has received the preparation and training to take on this position since his first day as an assistant fire chief, he said, in case there were ever days Roberts was unavailable and he or another assistant fire chief had to fill in. From that standpoint, he said, the transition of power has gone smoothly.

“Of course, there are always surprises around every corner, but I believe with the way the department has been set up by (Roberts) and his predecessors, I’m walking into an organization that is already well oiled, well run. We’ve got some very confident officers and firefighters that are here.

“I have some concerns as any new CEO would have, but in my case, I’ve got very good staff and support from the officers. I’m not looking forward to any large speed bumps.”

Riesterer doesn’t think any drastic changes will come into the fold once he becomes fire chief, either.

“Are there any things I want to see a big investment in? No, not off the top of my head. I need to actually sit back and look to see how things are going,” he said. “Just in my cursory view over the last five years … things are very well in hand, not only with the Fire Department, but the city in general.”

As Roberts prepares to step down, he has felt honored to serve the city of Troy, he said.

“This has been my life for over 42 years. I started when I graduated high school at the age of 18. The city of Troy has been my life. The Fire Department and the city government have been my life for a long time, and it’s truly been an honor. I’ve been proud to serve. I’ve enjoyed it, and I would like to say thank you to everyone in Troy for all of that.”

For more information, visit troymi.gov.

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