Southfield appoints new fire chief

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Southfield City Council unanimously approved the appointment of its new chief this week — staying within the department after a nationwide search.


Southfield Fire Department Capt. Johnny Menifee was selected to fill the position following a boating accident that killed the former chief, Keith Rowley.

“We’re very pleased to be promoting from within,” Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver said Tuesday. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience.”

Battalion Chief Edward Cary had been serving as acting fire chief.

Menifee joined the Souhtfield Fire Department in November of 1993 as a fire cadet/firefighter, according to the city. He has held several supervisor roles throughout the department, including acting battalion chief, lieutenant, EMT/paramedic and training and safety officer.

“Chief Menifee has a proven track record and a great deal of experience in protecting and serving the public in the city of Southfield,” Siver said in a statement from the city. “He will make a great fire chief and will carry on the high standards of the city of Southfield and the Southfield Fire Department.”

Menifee is also an active member in the community. In 2013, he started a mentor program for students in the Southfield School District and plans to make it a top priority during his tenure, according to his biography from the fire department. He’s also been an active participant with Goodfellows, Shop with a Hero, Axemen Motorcycle Club and Children’s ToothFairy Foundation.

“I feel strongly that the chief must be working outside of fire headquarters, as well as behind the desk to make sure that our firefighters are working in a supportive environment in a department that enhances their safety by providing timely in-service training and providing opportunities for professional advancement,” Menifee said in the biography.


Rowley, the former fire chief, went overboard in August 2015 on Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township in an attempt to retrieve a hat. His body was recovered days later. Cary was named acting fire chief in April.

Menifee is residing over 88 department members of Southfield and Lathrup Village as one of the busiest fire departments in Oakland County, according to the city. Southfield firefighters responded to 13,470 calls, about 36 calls a day, for service in 2014, its busiest year on record.

Menifee will be officially sworn-in at the city council meeting on Monday.

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