Community remembers fallen fire chief
COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Today the Kalamazoo County community is mourning the loss of a true hero. Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski was hit and killed on Wednesday night while responding to a crash on I-94 near Sprinkle Rd.
Chief Switalski came to Comstock in 2013, and in those four short years he impacted countless individuals across southwest Michigan.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said, “We were all better because of fire Chief Ed Switalski, and we will miss this man.”
Talons Out Honor Flight Vice President Dan Moyle says Chief Switalski was a founding member and coordinated all police and fire escorts. He said, “[Ed] was such a supporter over the years. It seemed like every homecoming we had he was one of the people pushing a veteran in a wheelchair.”
Moyle says honor flights will never be the same, and our community has lost a shining light.
“Ed was such a good guy, such a great smile, a great disposition, always happy. Happy to help people, happy to talk to folks. Just a joy in our community,” Moyle added.
Before coming to Comstock Chief Switalski was a battalion chief in Pleasantview, IL just east of Springfield. He was there for more than 30 years. Current Chief John Buckley says the majority of his career was spent with Switalski by his side.
“Ed was a great friend. He was a great firefighter,” Chief Buckley said. “He was very involved here in our organization and very involved in the community. It’s an incredible loss for all of us.”
Chief Switalski retired from the Pleasantview Fire Department and moved to Comstock in order to be closer to his daughter who attended Western Michigan University. Chief Buckley says it’s not surprising to hear Switalski was so well loved here and so involved in our community.
He said, “Ed really loved being up there and he loved the job of being the fire Chief.”
Chief Buckley says both his department and the Comstock Fire Department lost irreplaceable wisdom and knowledge gained over the course of a tremendous career.
The Kalamazoo non-profit organization Cuff and Ladder Fund posted on Facebook today saying in part, “Ed was an active supporter of the Cuff and Ladder Fund. His laugh, humor, pranks, smile and friendship will forever be remembered.”
Oshtemo Fire Chief Mark Barnes says Chief Switalski’s organs will be donated as his final service to his community.