Edmonds takes oath of office as new Alpena fire chief

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Billi Edmonds, left, pins a fire chief badge on her husband, Rob Edmonds, during a special ceremony at City Hall in Alpena on Tuesday. Rob Edmonds will replace Fire Chief Bill Forbush, who is retiring next month.

ALPENA — Alpena will have two fire chiefs for the next several weeks.

At a special ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday, local government officials, police and fire employees, friends, and family celebrated the promotion of Rob Edmonds, who became the new Alpena fire chief.

Edmonds replaces Bill Forbush, who is retiring next month.

Until then, both men will hold the title of chief and have the same executive authority. Forbush will hold command and control duties until his final day on Dec. 15.

After having his new badge pinned to his uniform by his wife, Billi, an emotional Edmonds thanked those who supported him since he became a firefighter in 1988, when he was only 19 years old.

He has been employed by the city since 1996.

“This is obviously a family event, including our fire family, my wife, kids,” he said. “Everyone of you has made a sacrifice to make this happen, so thank you.”

Before Edmonds took his oath of office, several local dignitaries shared their support for him and for the job Forbush has done during his time as chief.

City Manager Rachel Smolinski thanked those who attended the ceremony and said she is excited about the future of the department.

“Our new chief will need the support of the community, coworkers, leadership, family, and friends as he transitions into this important and challenging role for our community,” Smolinski said. “I’m proud of the work members of our Fire Department do and I look forward to a very bright future with you. I look forward to working with you and to the next chapter of the Alpena Fire Department.”

Smolinski also praised Forbush for the work he has done over his 12 years of service in Alpena and beyond.

“You have had a huge career, and your service and accomplishments have not gone unnoticed, and we thank you for your commitment,” she said.

Mayor Matt Waligora said that, during his time as mayor, he has seen a rollover of every department head that worked for the city. He joked that maybe that is an indication that he has been mayor for too long.

Waligora praised Forbush for improvements to the Fire Department and for building relationships around the area. He added that Edmonds, under Forbush’s tutelage, is ready to build upon those improvements and relationships.

“Rob has been here long enough to know how important those relationships are, and I have seen him at meetings and how he conducts himself and how he speaks to people, and he is very professional,” Waligora said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.


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