Body of Southfield Fire Chief Found by Dive Team

Body of Southfield Fire Chief Found by Dive Team(City of Southfield Press release, Aug. 3, 2015) 

We are sorry to report that Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley drowned in a boating accident on July 31 on Lake St. Clair in Macomb County. The city of Southfield extends its deepest condolences to the family of Fire Chief Keith Rowley on his passing.


Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham reports that Chief Rowley, who was a 58-year-old Milford resident, went overboard from a 40-foot vessel at approximately 7:12 p.m. on July 31. Deputies with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Marine Division and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) tried unsuccessfully to locate him throughout the past several days.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Rowley family and all who knew him,” commented Mayor Donald Fracassi. “Chief Rowley was one of Southfield’s own. He was known for his outstanding character and positive personality. He was an outstanding fire chief and was well liked and respected by the department and the community. He will be greatly missed.”

Chief Rowley began his employment with the City of Southfield as a firefighter on January 29, 1979. He was appointed Fire Chief on October 16, 2012. Prior to his appointment as Chief, he served in progressively-responsible supervisory positions throughout the department. He organized and managed numerous major programs and projects such as expanding the Technical Rescue program and assisting in set up of the Urban Search and Rescue Team. Under his leadership, fire department staff teamed with City Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to reconfigure the SAFER grant to better meet the needs of the City of Southfield. As a result, the City and the Fire Department are now better positioned to maintain the high standards of commitment and care for the community. Chief Rowley, in conjunction with other department staff, also developed and implemented many new state-of-the-art training and firefighting techniques such as the use of Thermal Imaging technology, school bus emergency response, high angle rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and vehicle extrication.

Born and raised in the City of Southfield, Chief Rowley always exemplified a high degree of pride and dedication to the community. He is survived by a wife and two adult children.

“The entire Southfield family is greatly saddened by the loss of Fire Chief Rowley,” added City Administrator Fred Zorn. “He was extremely well liked by city staff and residents in the community. He will be greatly missed and always remembered for his professionalism and his sincere, kind and compassionate character that not only made him such a great chief, but truly a special person that will be missed by many.”

The Southfield Fire Department is presently comprised of 88 highly-trained and motivated members who serve the citizens of Southfield and Lathrup Village, as well as a daytime population estimated at 175,000. The men and women of the Southfield Fire Department respond from five fire stations strategically located within the city.  In 2014, the busiest year on record, Southfield firefighters responded to 13,470 calls for service (36.7 calls per day), and remains the busiest fire department in Oakland County.


Southfield Fire Chaplains are offering grief counseling to fire department personnel and grief counselors will be made available to city staff through the Employment Assistance Program (EAP) as requested.

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