Longtime Birmingham Fire Chief John Connaughton retired on December 17, after 38 years with the Birmingham Fire Department, with former assistant fire chief Paul Wells named as interim chief.
Connaughton, a Livonia native, graduated from Bentley High School and attended Madonna University. He first worked at St. Mary's Hospital in Livonia, which he said led to his career in firefighting.
He earned his state paramedic license, and began his career in Birmingham in 1980 as a firefighter/paramedic, where he was trained in firefighting.
"Advance life support changed the face of the fire service," said Connaughton, noting how his time working in the hospital sparked his interest in earning a state paramedic license to compliment his firefighting experience.
Connaughton was promoted to EMS coordinator, and later joined the department's command staff as a lieutenant, eventually becoming assistant chief, which he served from 2009 to 2015. He was the Birmingham Fire Department's Chief from 2015 through 2018, with December 17 his final day.
Among his many accomplishments, he was very proud of the recent rebuild of Birmingham Fire Station No. 2 on Chesterfield at Maple Road, which replaced the original station that was built in 1955, and reopened in 2018.
His motto as a firefighter, paramedic, chief and mentor? "Always treat a situation like your mother, father, sister and brother is involved and you'll be fine," Connaughton said.
Interim chief Paul Wells began his latest assignment on Saturday, December 29. He is a former captain in the department.
Paul Wells is an outstanding fire officer,” Connaughton said in 2017. “He’s one of the hardest-working employees we have in this department.”