Lehigh Valley

Retiring Allentown fire chief reflects on career

Fire chief retires

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - For Allentown Fire Chief Robert Scheirer, being a firefighter was in his blood. His grandfather, father and four brothers all served as firefighters in Allentown.

"When you're brought up in a firefighting family it's something you want to do," he explained.

Scheirer will retire with 22-and-a-half years in the city department under his belt. He was promoted to fire marshal, then became the public Information Officer, and worked as Administrative Deputy Chief before taking the role of chief in 2008. Something he promised his wife he wouldn't do.

"She still reminds me today of what I said to her," Scheirer smiled. "I promise you that I will not become the Chief of this department, just because of the stress of being the boss."

Scheirer's nearly six year run as chief included mass retirements brought on by a city pension agreement, and mandated staff reductions. It's tragedies like the 2011 gas explosion that claimed five lives that Scheirer says he will never forget. But he also has confidence in the men fighting next to him.

"The officers we have in place today are very well educated, very well trained and I have no doubt in my mind that they can do the job and get the job done," Scheirer shared.

He says he loves the brotherhood and camaraderie of the force, and it's been a rewarding career.

"I think I will miss the job," he added. "And I do believe it is time for me to move on."

Chief Scheirer's retirement is effective Jan. 18. Deputy Chief of Operations Bob Kudlack, will serve as interim chief while the city starts a national search for a permanent chief.

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