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Fire Dept. Chaplains Freed, Holzerland Recognized by Chief Wiseman

Volunteers played key roles in assisting as needed given the deaths of West Bloomfield Police Sgt. Patrick O'Rourke and retired, former Chief Carl Borg.

Volunteers who provided support, counseling, and grief services to West Bloomfield Township Police and Fire crews and others in the wake of the deaths of an on-duty officer and former fire chief were recognized by Fire Chief Jay Wiseman in a recent quarterly report.

Quarterly reports to the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees provide officials with key information on what departments are doing. WBFD Chaplains Jack Freed and Timothy Holzerland were recognized in Wiseman's report dated Oct. 5 for their "service, support and guidance during these difficult times."

Freed, who established Holy Spirit Church in 1972 and currently serves as Pastor Emeritus of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, as well as The Rev. Holzerland of Lutheran Church of the Shepherd King in West Bloomfield, stepped in admirably as needed, according to Wiseman.

The death of Police Sgt. Patrick O'Rourke Sept. 9 resulted in grief for officers, fire crews, and O'Rourke's family including four young children. Holzerland responded directly to the hospital which received O'Rourke as he was shot by a barricaded gunman that Sunday night, staying with everyone to help even in early morning hours.

Freed also rose to the occasion, participating in the debriefing process and providing assistance to officers, fire crews, and dispatchers who were involved in the call of shots being fired, which led to the officer's death.

O'Rourke was posthumously promoted to Sergeant Oct. 1.

"I cannot overstate the value of the fire department's two chaplains and the importance of the roles they played on the night we lost Sgt. O'Rourke," Wiseman wrote.

Wiseman continued that both chaplains also provided admirable support and service in days after , who passed away Sept. 11 after a battle with cancer. He was 79.

Borg served as chief for 16 of his 42 years in the fire service, retiring from WBFD in 2000.

Wiseman continued to offer thanks to the fire department's honor guard, which performed ceremonial duties at both funerals including supporting the families of the deceased.

"While one such funeral is difficult for any honor guard to manage, two such occurrances at one time called for duties that went above and beyond expectations and our honor guard members met the challenge," Wiseman wrote. 

The WBFD quarterly report, along with reports from other township departments, is submitted for the approval of the board at its meeting Monday night.

The report also includes comprehensive information on activities including run volumes, operational issues, and revenues. To download the report (PDF), visit the township's website.

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