Michael J. Brandt


Michael J. Brandt, who has served as Northwest Fire District's interim chief since Oct. 6, will have the label removed Tuesday, when he will sign a two-year contract to serve as chief.

Northwest Fire's five-member Governing Board voted unanimously May 7 to award Brandt the position. Former Chief Jeff Piechura retired in October.

Brandt and his wife, Rose, have six children. Brandt has worked in the fire and EMS service industry for more than 35 years. Brandt was with the Tucson Fire Department from 1977 to 2005, when he joined Northwest.

Brandt did not have time for an interview last week, Northwest Fire spokeswoman Trina Motto said. His colleagues did have time to talk, and said Brandt is a natural leader with a wide range of interests and a sense of humor.

Assistant Fire Chief Doug Emans said Brandt is "very down to earth."

"He can keep up with other guys in the fire service," Emans said. "Joking goes back and forth, and he can certainly hold his own and come back with the rest of us. He is not so much of an intellectual that he's beyond the ability to joke."

Emans pushed for Brandt to receive the permanent position. He and six other Northwest Fire employees attended an April 9 Governing Board meeting to voice their support.

"A fairly large contingent of staff supported his appointment," Emans said, praising Brandt's willingness to listen to input from the executive staff.

Division Chief Brad Bradley, who has worked with Brandt for eight years, said he has all the right qualities for the job.

"He's very, very fair, very loyal and very personable," Bradley said.

"He's a strong family man, and he believes the fire service is an extension of that family, and he approaches it that way."

Brandt is known for reaching out and keeping an open mind to ideas, administrative services manager Carla Reece said.

"He's an inclusive leader who is great at team-building and gathering input," Reece said. "He's definitely not the coercive type. He can get the job done and be decisive."

The union is behind Brandt, said Capt. Kyle Canty, who is president of Associated Fire Fighters Local 3572.

"We like his teamwork, and our belief is that he wants to get input from all areas of the organization before a decision is made," he said. "He did a good job of reaching out to us, giving us the ability to chat with him and find out what his goals are."

Canty said he hopes Brandt focuses on safety above all.

"Safety is the No. 1 thing," he said. "We need to make sure we have enough workers on apparatuses to provide that safety. I think the best thing a fire chief can do is have the ability to get as much input from all areas of the organization, as well as the community."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com