Dr. Brad Brown selected to serve as Grand Rapids’ next fire chief
Published on April 10, 2023
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – City Manager Mark Washington has selected Dr. Brad Brown, deputy chief of support services for the Grand Rapids Fire Department (GRFD), as the City’s 25th fire chief. Brown begins leadership of the 203-member department May 1. He succeeds the retiring Fire Chief John Lehman who headed the department since the summer of 2016.
Brown and Eloy Vega, fire chief and emergency management coordinator for the City of Port Neches and former Fire District Chief of Laredo, Texas, were the top two fire chief candidates following a nationwide recruitment.
“After an extensive recruitment and assessment process that included broad stakeholder feedback, I am pleased to appoint Deputy Chief Brad Brown as the next chief of the Grand Rapids Fire Department,” Washington said. “He will build upon the good foundation laid under Chief Lehman’s extraordinary leadership. He cares deeply for our residents, this organization, his fellow firefighters and the department. I’m confident that he will continue to elevate the quality of life for Grand Rapidians and ensure they have a world-class fire department.”
Brown, a 27-year veteran of the fire service, began his career in Greensboro, NC. As fire chief, Brown will continue his 20-year career working for the City of Grand Rapids. He’s served in various capacities with the GRFD including firefighter, acting equipment operator, acting officer, lieutenant-planning, captain-planning, assistant chief-administration, and filled in as acting fire chief. Brown has overseen the $36 million budget, purchasing, planning division, fleet and facilities, administrative staff, fire prevention division, and facilitated the hiring and promotion of GRFD employees.
Chief Brown serves as a peer assessor for the Center for Public Safety Excellence and as an instructor for Eastern Michigan University’s school of staff and command where he instructs on strategic planning, financial management and problem solving.
Brown has earned an associate degree in fire protection technology from Guilford Technical Community College, an associate degree in fire prevention and investigation from Delta College, a bachelor’s in business administration with a major in fire service management from Northwood University, a master’s degree in executive fire leadership from Grand Canyon University, and a doctorate in education from Cornerstone University in Organizational Leadership and Development.
Chief Brown says he is humbled and excited to accept the fire chief position.
"I want to thank City Manager Washington and my fellow firefighters for the confidence that they have shown in me,” he said. “I think we have it dialed in pretty good here in Grand Rapids thanks to Chief Lehman’s leadership, and I'm looking forward to keeping that work going in the future. By managing our assets and being proactive, I really think that we're setting Grand Rapids up for the future, and I'm really excited to continue serving the residents of this great city."
The search for Grand Rapids’ next fire chief began in January following Chief John Lehman’s retirement announcement. Input from stakeholders through numerous panels, a televised forum and public survey provided Washington with community feedback on both candidates before making his decision on the hire.