Colleagues mourn loss of fallen fire chief


COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Chief Ed Switalski had a major impact on those he worked with at the Comstock Fire Department, as well as the organizations that he was a part of and volunteered with.

The fire chief was killed Wednesday in the line of duty, when a car slammed into him at a crash site.

Those who knew Chief Switalski say he was committed to serving the community and helping anyone who was in need. Colleagues say he was well respected but also a down to earth guy.

The flags at the Comstock Fire Department are flying at half staff to symbolize the painful loss.

"It was sad and all the time I was taking the flag down to half-mast I was thinking of Ed," said Fraternal Order of Police President John R. Cross.

Cross says Chief Switalski was among the best to serve in the organization.

"He was a member of our lodge, an associate member. We welcomed him here a lot of times, he and his wife. He was a good family man and he is going to be a very sad loss to the community," said Cross.

Cross says as a member of the brotherhood many were swept away by Chief Switalski's ease and command among law enforcement.

"Ed had great charisma, he just kind of drew people to him," said Cross.

Pavillion Township Fire Chief Karl Poenicke, who leads the organization Kzoo F.O.O.L.S. was too distraught to say much about his friend and colleague whose career spanned decades and who was always committed to serving the community.

"My stomach just sank, i didn't even know what to think, it was surreal," said Poenicke.

Poenicke shared fond memories of Chief Switalksi and his wide-ranging life distinguished by his persona and love for his community.

"The last interaction I had with Ed, we were actually in a debate about something going on in the community. We didn't always see eye to eye but in the end we always gave each other a hug and a hearty handshake, and we promised to see each other again," said Poenicke.

We're told details about funeral arrangements will be announced Friday.

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