New Lansing fire chief: ‘I know what implicit bias feels and looks like’

Brian Sturdivant
Posted at 8:35 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 08:36:46-04

LANSING, Mich. — Lansing's new fire chief Brian Sturdivant is aiming to improve the department through education, experience and professional development. Sturdivant was notified that he was chosen to be the next chief on Monday from Mayor Andy Schor. Sturdivant had been serving as the Battle Creek fire chief.

“He’s got experience with transport from EMS. He’s got experience with fighting fires. He’s got experience with emergency management and a variety of other things,” Schor said.

Sturdivant’s experience traces back 30 years. He’s held leadership positions in fire departments in California, Virginia, and Arizona. In 2018, he made his way to Michigan, where he served as the fire chief in Battle Creek.

“He’s very disciplined. He’s very organized,” said Mayor of Battle Creek Mark Behnke. “His reports were probably some of the best annual reports I have ever seen.”

Sturdivant will be managing nearly 175 employees within the Lansing Fire Department. His goal is to make sure each employee knows the importance of diversity and equality.

“I know what disparity treatment looks like. I know what it feels like,” Sturdivant said. “I know what implicit bias feels like when it’s directed towards an individual and I understand there are a lot of issues here in the city of Lansing on the fire department.”

Allegations of racism and mistreatment within the fire department came to surface years ago. In 2020, multiple current and former Black employees of the department filed a lawsuit against the city claiming racial discrimination.

“I know what that looks like and I have experienced it, and I have vowed that I would not let anything like that happen under my watch,” Sturdivant said.

Sturdivant’s first day with the department is Monday, May 2.