Schrier is new fire chief

Gray Hughes

For the first time since 2009, Hill City has a new fire chief.

Craig Comer has stepped down as chief, and Howard Schrier will step up to fill that role.

“It was time for fresh blood,” Comer said. “I felt that it was just time to get some fresh ideas and fresh leadership in the chief’s position.”

Comer was honored with an open house at Art Anderson Memorial Fire Hall on Nov. 6, bringing people from across the community to celebrate the achievements of former chief Comer.

Humble about his accomplishments as chief, for Comer, his greatest achievement was that everybody went home from every fire without any major injuries.

Comer joined the Hill City Fire Department in 1992. Growing up in the town of Lead, Comer said he always thought it was important to be involved in the community.

“I wanted to be able to give something back instead of taking,” Comer said. “I wanted help friends and neighbors.”

Under Schrier, Comer said the fire department is in great hands.

Comer said Schrier asked him to stay on as a deputy chief — a position Schrier has held since 2009 — and Comer said he has accepted that.

“I intend to remain as active as I can,” Comer said. “I’m looking forward to not having to make the day-to-day operational decisions.”

Schrier became chief on Nov. 4 and has been involved in the department since 1989.

He said he became involved because his brother and another member of the department asked him to join, and Schrier said he’d try it.

“And I stayed on the department because we help people when they need it,” he said. “People call 911, and they need help. So we show up and try to make their day a little better.”

Schrier said that, serving as an assistant chief under Comer, he has learned a lot and has received mentoring and guidance already.

Comer has a lot of knowledge, skill, ability and experience, Schrier said, so he said he would pick Comer’s brain.

“We have a great group of guys on the department,” Schrier said. “So, to be honest, other than the two of us changing positions the way we do things isn’t going to change a lot because it’s been working really well for Hill City and our constituents, and that’s what’s important.”

Sometimes, though, it’s time for a change, Schrier said, and he’s in a position to be able to do that.

Serving one’s community, state and country are very important things to be able to do, he added, and Schrier said it was his time to step up and serve the community.

For Schrier, his favorite part of being a fireman is being able to step up and help people.

There are a lot of kids who, when growing up, say they want to become firemen because they can “drive trucks fast.”

Schrier, though, said he has enjoyed the group of people who come together and say they are going to help the community.

These people, Schrier said, are unselfish, and they give a lot. To be around people who are selfless and want to serve the community is gratifying, he said, and it is very satisfying to be part of a group like that.

As the leadership transitions, Schrier said there won’t be a lot of change.

“You are going to see a lot more of the same of what was going on,” Schrier said. “(Comer) was a great chief, and I don’t believe in fixing things that aren’t broken, but if we can improve and do things differently we’ll look at that.”

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