Even for someone used to a career of battling infernal fires and assisting with deadly car crashes, the summer of 2017 has been pretty crazy.
Dave Piché retired as Bloomfield Township Fire Chief on June 29, after 32 years as a firefighter/paramedic. On August 3, he began a second career as program assistant of the football program at the University of Michigan. One move was planned. The other, most definitely, was not.
“The retirement was planned. I’m 55. I thought it was time to move on. I started out as a firefighter/paramedic in Bloomfield Township and came up through the ranks,” Piche’ said. “I was promoted to lieutenant, captain, assistant chief, and then chief, and was chief for eight years. There are a lot of young people behind me, and my moving on allows them to move into slots and enjoy their careers as I did mine.”
Besides firefighting and his family, Piché had long had another passion. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been in love with University of Michigan, and I’m a big fan of (Coach Jim) Harbaugh’s,” he said. “That’s why this is so crazy.”
As a retirement gift, township supervisor Leo Savoie and other colleagues in the township had a fire helmet signed by Harbaugh, and some firefighters had another fire helmet painted like a U-M helmet.
“They surprised me at my house and drove me to Schembechler Hall, and took me to see Coach Harbaugh, and he signed the helmet. He spent about 40 minutes with us, talking, and walking around,” he recalled in awe. “He then asked what my plans were. I said to take some time off and then find a part time job. He said, ‘You ought to consider working for me.’ I said ‘Really? What, as the team’s water boy?’ He said they were going to be hiring for some positions, and I should look into them. I thought he was just trying to make the day nice for me.”
Two weeks later, the team’s head of operations called Piché and asked him to come in and talk to Harbaugh about a possible job.
Now, Piché goes to work every day at Schembechler Hall, overseeing access to the building, arranging appointments, wearing a suit, providing a professional security image on behalf of the football team.
He has a pretty cool viewing spot now for all home games, and may travel with them as well.
“I wasn’t ready to sit home, and this is a great new opportunity. I’m going to enjoy it while I can.”
Photo: Jean Lannen