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Brian Schaeffer served as deputy fire chief and fire chief of the Spokane, Washington, Fire Department from 2005 to 2024 (photo courtesy of Columbia spokeswoman Sydney Olsen).

Columbia’s new fire chief was a longtime firefighter in Spokane, Washington.

Columbia City Manager De’Carlon Seewood appointed Brian Schaeffer to the position this morning, saying Mr. Schaeffer brings invaluable experience to the role. Seewood says Schaeffer has demonstrated his ability to set priorities with foresight and to be committed to the quality of service that CFD continually strives for. 939 Eagle News asked Mr. Seewood about the search for a fire chief during his State of the City address on May 30. Mr. Seewood said that day that he was looking for a chief, and said CFD has made significant progress in recent years:


“So it needs someone who understands that. Someone who can make sure that we continually move forward and don’t fall behind. So it needs someone who can take a leadership role and lead this department,” Mr Seewood said that day.

Mr. Schaeffer served as deputy chief and fire chief in Spokane, Washington, from 2005 to 2024. Spokane has a population of about 230,000, making it larger than Columbia, which has a population of about 129,000. Mr. Schaeffer describes Columbia as an exceptional community.

Former Columbia Fire Chief Clayton Farr Jr. retired in April. The other three finalists were all local candidates: Columbia Assistant Fire Chief and Hickman University graduate John Ambra, MU Health Care clinical director and former Boone County Fire Protection District battalion chief Chuck Doss and Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Heidenreich. The city hosted a meet-and-greet with the four finalists in early June.

According to the city charter, the city manager of Columbia appoints the fire chief.