David Michaels was just 22 years old when he joined the York City Fire Department.
He'd grown up in small-town fire stations, the son of a volunteer fire chief. When he graduated from York College with a degree in criminal justice, Michaels knew he wanted to do something in the public-safety field.
He felt drawn to the York City Fire Department, where he took and passed the tests. And the rest is history.
Twenty-two years later, Michaels said he still loves his job. It has everything to do with the crew he works with.
"That's still what makes me want to come to work in the morning," said Michaels, 44.
At the end of the month, Michaels will become the department's newest chief. His title
will be "acting chief" because, Mayor Kim Bracey has said, a potential merger with a suburban department could change the administrative structure.
Michaels, currently a deputy chief, will replace Steve Buffington, whose retirement becomes official April 29.
Credentials: A 1989 graduate of York College, Michaels is a certified emergency medical technician, fire inspector and building-code official. He is in his third year of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.
He has received the chief's letter of commendation three times for exemplary service and was named the department's 2006 Firefighter of the Year.
As acting chief, Michaels said he anticipates his biggest challenge will be balancing the financial needs of the fire department with the need to rein in costs wherever possible.
Priority: His top priority, Michaels said, will be ensuring quality service despite that challenge.
"As long as we say, 'Hey, these people in the city, they deserve a good fire department,'" he said. "I want to make sure that if somebody needs help, we're going to get them that help."
Michaels said he hopes to join the city's ongoing conversations with York Area United Fire and Rescue. He said he intends to help the process along by lending his experience and knowledge.
Bracey has in recent months expressed interest in partnering with York Area United as a way of streamlining efficiency and rescuing the cash-strapped city from skyrocketing costs.
She initiated conversations late last year with the department, which formed in 2008 with the merger of departments in Springettsbury and Spring Garden townships.
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or ejame email@example.com or on Twitter @ydcity.