Clay Fire Chief announces retirement after 35 years

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Clay Fire Chief Timm Schabbel will retire in February after 35 years of service, the department announced Friday. Schabbel is the longest running tenured chief officer in the department's 75-year history.

Chief Schabbel started with Clay Township in 1989 and was promoted to Fire Chief in 1997. Over his career, Chief Schabbel is credited with modernizing St. Joseph County’s fire and EMS delivery model.

He also led the transition of the department from the Clay Township Fire Department to today’s Clay Fire Territory, which now includes service to Clay Township, the Town of Indian Village, the Town of Roseland, German Township and Harris Township.

In 2004, Clay Fire became the first internationally accredited fire department in the state and remains one of only four in Indiana with the mark.

“Chief Schabbel has spent his entire career in the service of others and to our community,” said Sean O’Brien, Clay Township Trustee. “On behalf of Clay Township, we are extremely grateful for his vision, leadership, professionalism, and his significant contributions to our community. Clay Township is a better and safer place because of the Schabbels. I wish him and his family all the best during his hard-earned and well-deserved retirement.”

Other notable accomplishments in Schabbel's career include creating and developing the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, developing the Community Risk Reduction Division and expanding the Clay Fire Training Division. 

The department will soon announce the selection process for the next Fire Chief. 

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