Matt Gillies named Allegan fire chief
Allegan Fire District deputy chief Matt Gillies was promoted to the rank of chief during a surprise pinning ceremony at Allegan Township Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Under the ruse that he would be attending a FEMA grant writing meeting, generations of family members and an extended family of firefighters were waiting in the wings to celebrate the promotion from deputy to chief.
Gillies has served as a firefighter since 2000 when he graduated from Allegan High School and joined the United States Navy aboard the USS Carl Vinson. He served as machine repairman, carpenter and firefighter for the ship’s fire department, the Gold Eagle Flying Squad.
Gillies joined the Allegan Fire District in 2008, serving as fire lieutenant, fire inspector, engineer, and in 2015, was promoted to deputy chief. On May 1, he was named interim chief after the post was left vacant with the firing of longtime chief Bruce Hoyer with no explanation.
Fire board members Jon Cook, Steve Schulz, Patrick Morgan and Keith Behm unanimously voted to appoint Gillies as chief. Board chairman Jon Cook said the majority of firefighters felt Gillies was the right person for the job, he deserved the promotion and the department did not wish to fill the vacancy from outside.
The board agreed and based on their own observations and interaction with Gillies, moved forward with the internal promotion.
During the ceremony, Gillies’ wife Summer was bestowed the honor of pinning the fire chief collar insignias of five crossed bugles and a name plate. Captain Nick Brink presented Gillies his fire chief helmet badge. Firefighter Derek Broadbent gave the chaplain’s prayer.
Gillies children, Kennedy, 7, Kohen, 8, Caiden, 10, and teens Cole and Mackenzie Green were all in front row seats, alongside parents, grandparents and even a set of grandparents on Skype from Florida. Firefighters in dress uniform filled the rest of the hall.
“It’s the American success story,” Cook said. “Hard work pays off.”
Gillies thanked the board, his family and fellow firefighters.
“I’m excited about the progression of the department and looking forward to representing it,” he said.
Cook said this was the first pinning ceremony of the fire district. He said a lot was owed to the firefighters in the room for stepping up during this transition time and making it work to serve the community.
Gillies’ salary of $45,000 remains unchanged with the promotion.
“My concern is not about money,” he said after the ceremony. “My concern and goal is to be able to focus 100 percent on our guys and people in the community.”
The fire district is currently updating the fire code standards within Allegan City and Allegan Township by going from the IFCA 2000 code to the 2015 NFPA 1 code. As a state certified fire inspector, Gillies will be providing inspection services for the district on a consistent basis to better protect building occupants and firefighters in the line of duty.
Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at email@example.com or at (269) 673-5534.
In a promotion ceremony for the official appointment of the new Allegan Fire District chief, Matt Gillies’ wife Summer pins collar insignias of five crossed bugles. (Photo by Virginia Ransbottom)