By Mike Kruzman /

Howell’s retiring Fire Chief has shared thoughts on his time in the community and the future of firefighting.

Howell Area Fire Authority Chief Andy Pless is retiring after over 35 years of being a firefighter. Pless, who was a guest Sunday on WHMI's Viewpoint program, came to Howell in 1987 and has served as Chief since 2008. He was named the 2019 Michigan Fire Chief of the Year by the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs. He said it’s been an awesome career for him and a lot of fun. Pless said the profession has changed a lot since the ‘80s. Back then, their runs were mainly fires and accidents, with few medical calls. Now they do a lot of medicals and have greater responsibilities that include assisting with carbon monoxide, hazmat, technical rescues, and more. Pless said he finds the most rewarding part of the job to be helping people. He looked back on big efforts in his time that included a factory fire by the airport and big chemical spills. The Chief said that unfortunately if he’s having a really good day, then that somebody else is having a really bad day, but that’s the job.

Pless is also a proponent of unifying all of the county’s fire departments into one. He told WHMI that the problem with that isn’t so much from the firefighters, but the politicians that won’t let go. Pless said he believes it would lead to better allocated resources and the greater good of the community. He used Los Angeles County as an example, contemplating that if they can do it there, why not here

Pless and his wife, LuAnn, will be staying in the area and plan to move to Lake Shannon in Tyrone Township. LuAnn is the current Oceola Township Treasurer, but is not seeking re-election and will retire when her term is up. Pless’ last day will be August 14th. Deputy Chief Ron Hicks will then take over the department.