Ann Arbor’s new fire chief is preparing to set the city ablaze with plans to improve its firefighting unit.

Friday morning, members of the Ann Arbor Fire Department, the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Ann Arbor City Council gathered for the inauguration of the city’s new fire chief, Larry Collins.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor (D) served as master of the ceremony, which took place at the Ann Arbor Fire Department on North Fifth Avenue.

Taylor said he was excited to welcome Collins to Ann Arbor, who had previously served as fire chief for the Brevard County Fire Rescue in Florida since 2009.

“It’s a tremendous day for Ann Arbor to welcome a new chief,” Taylor said. “I want to say, chief, that I think you’ll like it here in Ann Arbor. I think you’ll be proud, and you will value your colleagues in the fire department because they are dedicated, professional, and work hard every day to protect us.”

Taylor stressed the importance of the Ann Arbor Fire Department in maintaining the city’s mission of maintaining the quality of life of its citizens.

“At its core, basic services are what this city is all about, and at the core of basic services, of course, is fire, and police, and law enforcement.”

Amy Brow, Ann Arbor Fire Department assistant chief of operations, also expressed enthusiasm about the new appointment.

“Somebody of this caliber, we could’ve only wished for. It’s like Christmas – we got it!” Brow said.

Both Collins and his colleagues said they look forward to changes and improvements in store for the department.

“For years we’ve needed this type of leadership to make succession plans, and I think that he’s going to be able to get us going in the right direction,” Brow said.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Collins said he wants to involve members of the community in the process.

“I’ve got to get in and get my feet on the ground,” he said. “I’ve got to get a better understanding of the community, the department and its needs.”

“I think at that point in time what we do is we sit down and (compose) a strategic and a master plan to guide us into the future based upon changes in demand, based upon fiscal resources, based upon training needs and those kinds of things … We want that to be an open process.”

At the ceremony and reception, Collins said he considers Ann Arbor to be a world-class city, adding that the AAFD could become a world-class department to match it. He said he feels privileged to lead the organization, though he still maintains ties to Ohio, where he served at the Dayton Fire Department for thirty years.

“And remember: go Bucks,” he said.

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