One Minute Interview with Commerce Township Fire Chief Jim Dundas
Jim Dundas has lived in Commerce Township for 21 years. He had a few days off from his former position with the City of Southfield Fire Department before starting his new position April 10 as Commerce Township fire chief. He and his wife, Melissa, have a son, Cooper, 18, and a 15-year-old daughter, Shelby. The Spinal Column caught up with him to see how he is settling into his new position.
What’s your background in terms of education and on-the-job experience?
“I have an associate’s degree in fire science from Henry Ford Community College. I am also a graduate of Eastern Michigan University’s Staff and Command. I also graduated twice from the National Fire Academy for two different programs: the fire and arson investigation program, and the management of fire prevention program.”
“Experience-wise, I spent 27 years working for the Southfield Fire Department. I served there as a firefighter, paramedic, fire inspector and fire marshal.”
Why did you decide to apply for and accept the position of Commerce Township fire chief?
“I was looking for another chapter in my career. Since I live in Commerce, and this is where I have lived for a long time, I have a vested interest in Commerce. Commerce is an exciting new chapter in my career here. There is a lot of potential in the department for growth.”
In what ways do you think you can move Commerce Township’s fire department forward? How do you plan to achieve that?
“The first thing is for me to take a look at is how to be as efficient as possible so that we can maximize what’s given to me in the budget. I think Commerce needs to improve their staffing levels in both their career and paid-on-call firefighters.”
“A lot of good things were put into motion before I got appointed to the fire chief’s position. They have already designed a new fire truck to replace a truck that’s over 20 years old. Commerce has applied for a grant to improve staffing levels; we’re optimistic that we have a chance to have that federal grant approved, and that would have an immediate impact on staffing levels.”
What are your goals for your first year and beyond?
“In terms of my goals for the first year, right now I’m trying to learn a whole new system. I really want to earn the trust of the firefighters here in Commerce and the township board.”
“I would say that improving staffing is probably the highest priority. I think a realistic goal beyond the first year would be to try to get at least two career firefighters in all four stations.”
What actions will you take to achieve those goals?
“The township board supports the grant, so I would say to support those things and actively recruit paid-on-call and career firefighters.”
Can you give us an idea of the timing for these items? What’s first, etc.?
“One of the things that we’re going to be doing this spring and summer is looking at a list to add three career firefighters. That’s to replace two of the fellows who are retiring this year, plus add one additional firefighter.”
Are there any activities of the fire department that you’d like people to know about?
“The annual open house is in October and we’ll be advertising that on the website.”
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you and Commerce Township Fire Department?
“I’m just extremely happy to be appointed as fire chief here and I’m going to do my best to make things better for Commerce Township.”