CARSON CITY — Mark Crawfis has been a member of the Michigan National Guard for almost 30 years, a Carson City firefighter for 15 years and the assistant fire chief for 10 years.
It was only natural that he would be appointed the new fire chief.
Crawfis was announced as the new leader of the Carson City Fire Department at Tuesday night’s Carson City Council meeting. Many of his firefighting colleagues attended the meeting to show their support.
Crawfis replaces Dan Kipp who recently stepped down as fire chief after a 13-year tenure. Kipp has relocated to Elm Hall and plans to focus on his new automotive manufacturing job in Mount Pleasant, as well as his family, including his fiancee Lisa, three children and one granddaughter.
Kipp, 46, became a firefighter 26 years ago when he was working at Carson City Hospital.
“A man I looked up to was (firefighter) Bill Fife,” Kipp recalled. “He had a fire call come in and he saw me standing there and he said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Not much.’ He said, ‘Good, come along with me.’ That was the first fire I went to.”
Kipp went on to work under the supervision of Bob Brooks who was fire chief at that time before Kipp was named fire chief. He said he will miss “the camaraderie of family” with the fire department.
“We got some new fire trucks, a new air pack, we got our ISO rating lowered,” Kipp recalled of his time with the fire department. “It wasn’t just me, it was the department that made the accomplishments. It was a group effort as a family.”
Crawfis, 51, was born and raised in Carson City, graduating from Carson City-Crystal High School in 1981. He is currently employed as an aircraft mechanic with the Michigan National Guard in Grand Ledge.
Crawfis recalls being inspired to join the Carson City Fire Department 15 years ago in part due to his great-uncle, who was on the Stanton Fire Department, and another uncle who was on the Crystal Township Fire Department.
“I was just looking for something else to do besides being in the Guard,” he said. “I’ve stayed busy with it and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”
Crawfis said Kipp taught him a lot while they served together, including educating him about the city budget, different types of fire attacks, how to manage fire scenes and more. In return, Crawfis tried to pass on what he learned in the National Guard about aircraft incidents and hazardous materials.
Crawfis said a new assistant fire chief will be appointed in the near future, as well as a new captain to replace that position. In the meantime, Crawfis has some plans for the fire department.
“One of our major goals for the next five years is trying to get a new station that’s big enough to handle all our equipment with some future growth,” he said. “Right now we’re very limited. There’s not much room. We’ve been talking about it for four or five years and it seems like now the city is seeing our plight.
“I also want to get everybody back to the basics and reorganize our team into a family,” he added. “We’re down on numbers now. We need more people.”
The Carson City Fire Department currently has about 14 volunteer firefighters. Anyone interested in becoming a firefighter can pick up an application at Carson City Hall or call Crawfis at (989) 763-6029.
“I wish Mark all the best of luck and bring them home alive,” said Kipp of Carson City’s new fire chief.