Township board and city council approve new Grayling fire chief

Mark Brown, former assistant chief, takes over following the retirement of chief Russell Strohpaul
The Grayling Fire Department – a longtime collaboration between the City of Grayling and Grayling Charter Township – welcomed a new fire chief on Wednesday, December 16, following the retirement of its previous chief.
The Grayling Fire Committee, which consists of the supervisor and clerk from Grayling Charter Township, the city manager and clerk from the City of Grayling, and the current fire chief, recommended Mark Brown – former assistant fire chief for the department – to replace Russell Strohpaul. 
Doug Baum, city manager and member of the fire committee, said Strohpaul took a medical retirement and his last day with the department was December 4. Baum, during the Grayling City Council’s regular meeting on Monday, December 14, said the committee “looked at options” and selected Brown, who served as assistant fire chief under Strohpaul, to be the new chief. Baum said the committee wanted “a smooth transition” and Brown is “someone known and respected” by current members of the department.
“We just felt it would be a really smooth transition bringing him in,” Baum said.
The Grayling City Council approved the fire committee’s recommendation with a 4-1 vote.
On Wednesday, December 16, the Grayling Charter Township Board unanimously approved the Grayling Fire Committee’s recommendation to hire Brown as the department’s new chief. With both government boards approving the recommendation, Brown took over on Wednesday night following a passing of the fire chief’s hat ceremony at the department.
“He’s perfect for the job,” said Lacey Stephan III, Grayling Charter Township Supervisor. “We’re lucky to have him on board.”
“I appreciate the opportunity,” Brown said.
Brown said he has a passion for the firefighting industry, something he developed at a young age. Many of his family members were firefighters.
“I kind of followed in their footsteps,” Brown said.
(Brown also works at CSI, a local company that manufactures fire trucks.)
Brown said being a firefighter takes commitment and sacrifice, and he praised Strohpaul’s decades of service to the department.
“His commitment to the community on the fire department should be recognized. It’s not only Russ, it’s his family, his wife, his kids. He dedicated his heart and soul to that department. He was instrumental in where they are today,” Brown said. “He will be missed. We wish him the best on his retirement.”
“He was well respected from his peers,” Stephan said of Strohpaul.
Brown began his work as a firefighter in 1996. He served on the Grayling Fire Department from 2007 through 2020, leaving in January to complete “personal pursuits,” he said. Brown served as training officer and assistant fire chief during his time with the department.
Brown said he enjoys being a firefighter and likes being able to serve the community, being able to help people during difficult times. 
“I’ve enjoyed being a part of that department. There’s a lot of good people on that department,” Brown said. 
Stephan said the fire committee wanted to provide continuity with its recommendation of Brown.
“It was really nice to hire from within. When Chief Strohpaul was having to call it quits, we wanted to hire from within,” Stephan said. “It’s going to be seamless.”
“I have great respect for all the members,” Brown said. “Some very hard working and dedicated people. I understand the sacrifices they make.”
“We’re just looking to build on the fire department as we move forward, build on the foundation Russ built,” Brown said.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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