Landrum names Warren Ashmore new fire chief

Published 5:51 pm Friday, December 27, 2013

by Kiesa Kay
The Landrum City Council named Warren Ashmore as the new chief of the Landrum Fire Department, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
“It’s going to be exciting to work with this great group of firefighters,” Ashmore said. “I have great officers here.”
Ashmore has served in the fire department since July 1995. His predecessor, Jimmy Flynn, served as fire chief for six years.
“Jimmy Flynn was a great asset for our fire department,” said Caitlin Martin, Landrum City Administrator. “He is an excellent administrative leader and he got the department to where it needed to be.”
In the all-volunteer fire department at Landrum, the volunteers vote for their fire chief and then state law requires review and approval by the city council, which has the final decision-making power to appoint the new fire chief. Martin praised Flynn and expressed her enthusiasm for the hard work and dedication of the new fire chief as well. Ashmore agreed that all the firefighters work hard to do their best in any situation.
“It takes a special person to be a firefighter, because when you walk into a fire, you don’t know what you’ll find and you don’t know if you’ll walk out,” Ashmore said. “There’s no glory to the work. You’re in a crisis situation and you do your best to alleviate it for everyone.”
Each firefighter has insurance coverage through Workmen’s Compensation and the city also carries property insurance through the Municipal Association of South Carolina, Martin said. In a crisis situation, the fire chief takes charge, but the city bears ultimate responsibility for the decisions made by all the individuals in the department, she said.
“I trust the men there and I trust them to make good decisions,” said Martin.
Martin said the fire department operates on a budget of $101,700 with $40,700 from fire tax money, $45,000 from the city budget to pay part-time employees during the day and $16,000 from the city budget for equipment during the year. The Landrum fire district covers Landrum City Limits and also areas of Spartanburg and Greenville County.
“Our volunteers usually work days, so our part-time employees cover that time,”  said Martin. “The volunteers respond to all the night calls. We have an excellent, well-trained group.”
The volunteers must meet high standards of physical fitness every year, with tests of hearing, sight, agility and strength.
Many surrounding counties have paid fire chiefs, but Landrum has decided to stick with the existing structure for the time being, Martin said.
“It’s a small town here, and our fire department always has been volunteer,” Martin said. “It has worked very well, so we see no need to change it. They’re a great group of people who work well together.”
Ashmore said he looked forward to the work in the next year, and he said he would like to work on community awareness classes for fire prevention, fire safety and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“If we help people learn how to handle situations that can arise, like stove fires and such, there will be less damage when we respond to a call,” Ashmore said. “We’ve been very lucky here in Landrum, and we need to get awareness out there. Since we started doing fire safety in the schools, we’ve seen a reduction of kids playing with matches and those types of things, so we know that community education can work to help keep everyone safe.”

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