Doug deBest named 'fire chief elect' in Baroda

Doug deBest will take over as chief of Baroda Township Fire Department when Larry Klug steps down later this year.

BARODA — Capt. Doug deBest has been named the new chief of the Baroda Township Fire Department, though he won’t take that office for awhile yet.

The Baroda Township Board at a special meeting on Monday named deBest as “fire chief elect,” as current Chief Larry Klug won’t resign until sometime this year.

deBest, after Monday’s regular board meeting, said the Fire and Township boards decided on a “plan of succession” which will allow him time to work on his duties as chief, and allow the department time to select new officers, including captain.

Assistant Fire Chief Guy Tollas will also retire soon, deBest said.

“I can work with (Klug), and this also gives us time to backfill my position,” deBest said.

deBest, 43, who lives in Baroda Village, has been with the department for 13 years and has been captain for nine years.

The chief elect said he plans for the department to emphasize community safety programs during his upcoming tenure. Firefighters have been installing smoke alarms for township and village residents, all on their own volunteer time, and that will continue and other programs will start, he said.

The 1994 graduate of South Haven High School earned an associate’s degree at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree in fire science from Lake Superior State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University in 2001. He is employed by Indiana Michigan Power Co.

He and his wife, Kerri, have two daughters.

Klug, who joined the fire department in 1984, during the meeting gave the board his monthly report, which included comments on the township’s July 3 fireworks show.

Both parking lots were jammed with cars, and it was “a great show,” Klug said.

St. Joseph in the past has held its fireworks show on July 4, and many fireworks fans have been accustomed to seeing both shows. But St. Joseph this year also changed its show to July 3.

Klug said that didn’t have much of an effect on Baroda’s attendance.

“If St. Joseph took a little away from us, that actually made it easier on us,” he said.