Firefighters raise money for late chief’s memorial

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich (WOOD) — Exactly two years after a fire chief’s tragic death, a West Michigan community is working to honor his legacy.

The Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue is remembering the life of Chief Ed Switalski, who died after a driver struck him while responding to a slide off accident on I-94.

Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Switalski 061717_355644
A photo of the late Chief Ed Switalski.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Wuis says the department has raised $72,000 to build a memorial next to Merrill Park honoring all firefighters, which will include a statue for Switalski. The bronze statue will cost around $32,000 to build.

“We’re hoping to start the wall anytime now and that’s going to be a mosaic tile that a local artist has designed,” Wuis said.

Kevin Thompson, close friend and firefighter, stopped by Boatyard Brewing Company on Friday as they tapped the keg on a beer called “Fast Eddie,” made especially to honor Switalski.

“It’s tough for everybody that knew him,” Thompson said. “Two years have passed and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.”

Thompson described the former chief as someone who was friends with everyone and a great member of the community.

Firefighters are hopeful the memorial will be finished and Switalski’s sacrifice will never be forgotten.

“It was a big loss. It was a big loss for the department and the community and all of Kalamazoo County,” Thompson said.

People can donate to the memorial online.

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