On October 22, 2007, Peter Wege realized every man’s dream. He became the Chief of the Grand Rapids Fire Department, complete with his name on the shiny white helmet! This honorary title made local history as it is the first time the GRFD has ever given such an award.
But, then, Peter Wege’s long-time support for the good men and women of the GRPD is in a class by itself as well. Peter and The Wege Foundation are well known for their generosity to a spectrum of West Michigan civic causes. But few people know of Peter’s quiet contributions to both the fire and police departments of Grand Rapids. Even though Peter lives in, and pay taxes to, East Grand Rapids, he has always understood that maintaining a healthy community requires a safe and prosperous core city.
One of Peter’s early gifts to the GRFD came on the heels of 9/11. That tragedy made the GRFD realize that they needed a better communications system if Grand Rapids was ever to experience a large-scale emergency. Peter donated two Battalion Chief mobile-command and radio systems that allow the GRFD to stay in close touch with other emergency responders in a major disaster. Peter added to that donation his own three-wheeled All-Terrain-Vehicle, allowing fire fighters to move quickly into areas without roads.
Most recently, and probably the most important of all, Peter Wege spearheaded a collaboration with other foundations and donors to buy ten life-saving
thermal-imaging cameras. These state-of-the art cameras, like night-vision glasses, allow firefighters to see into burning buildings for people trapped inside.
Grand Rapids firefighters might not see Chief Peter Wege sliding down the fire pole to jump on a fire truck with them. But they know their first honorary Chief holds them in high respect—and is always their friend.