Niedermaier sworn in as new fire chief

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 2, 2011

 Bob Niedermaier and wife Gina celebrate after he was officially sworn in as fire chief at a Jan. 27 ceremony.

Bob Niedermaier and wife Gina celebrate after he was officially sworn in as fire chief at a Jan. 27 ceremony.

Photo by Sara Kandel


EASTPOINTE — Eight months after he became acting/interim fire chief, Bob Niedermaier was sworn in as Eastpointe’s fire chief at a Jan. 27 ceremony attended by colleagues, city officials, family and friends.

Acting City Manager Randy Altimus swore him in. “Before I swear Bob in, I want to publicly thank him for taking on the role of acting chief,” Altimus said.

“I asked him to take on a role that would be difficult over the several months that he was acting chief, because it is difficult enough doing the chief’s role on top of the fire marshal’s role,” Altimus said. “But if that wasn’t hard enough, we also threw SERESA into the whole mix.”

Before the swearing-in, Niedermaier, 53, sat with his wife, Gina, at the front of the room that so filled with friends and family, Altimus joked, “I’ve never even spoken in front of a City Council meeting with this many people at it.”

After being sworn in, Niedermaier thanked friends and family for being there then gave a quick glance at a piece paper he brought with him to the podium before speaking. “Leadership is not something just found at the top positions,” he started. “It is also found and needed at all levels of the organization.”

He said rather than rely just on leadership from the top, change required leadership from all levels.

“Leadership carries with it complexity and carries with it a vast range of skill, tact and knowledge. It is a partnership among the body. It is a move from authoritarianism to shared decision making.”

He looked up to the back of the room, where firemen and colleagues stood listening, before continuing.

“You will now be referred to as team members or group members rather than subordinates. With that comes a responsibility from within to define our vision and our values. A person can lose an argument, but never a voice. Your expressed opinion will offer more value, and you will accept responsibility for the success or failure of those decisions.”

Niedermaier thanked his friends and family for being there once more then ended by saying, “Let’s eat cake.”

With his wife next to him, he posed for pictures from a line of people who gathered to offer congratulations and shake his hand.

“I’m overwhelmed with the amount of support,” said Gina. “I’m so proud of him. So many people turned out to see this.”

The crowd was indeed big. In it, Mayor Suzanne Pixley sat two rows from the front. “He’s just a class-act guy,” she said.

Everyone in the crowd seemed to be saying similar things about him. The room was abuzz with talk of his many accomplishments and kind attitude toward everyone he encounters.

Niedermaier started his career with Eastpointe Fire and Rescue in August 1984, when he was hired as an on-call firefighter. He was hired in full time April 11, 1987. Since then, he was promoted first to lieutenant in July 2004, then to a fire marshal two years later.

He’s a member of the department’s hazardous materials team, and is a state certified fire officer, a state certified fire inspector and a licensed paramedic. Niedermaier holds an Associate of Applied Science in fire science from Macomb Community College and conducts fire safety programs as a speaker and as a puppeteer.

He’s accomplished a lot and as fire chief he hopes to accomplish a lot more. But he doesn’t gloat about it; rather, he credits the people who surround him on a daily basis. “Well, I have great colleagues and a great family,” he said. “Really, I have to thank them, because I couldn’t have done it without them.”