Getting to know you …Warren Ashmore, Chief, Landrum Fire Department

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 1, 2014

By Claire Sachse
“There’s not a lot of glory in this job,” said Warren Ashmore, 45, Landrum’s recently installed fire chief.
“But,” he admitted, “it does give you an adrenaline rush.”
In describing his first emergency call, Ahsmore said, “I fell over the kitchen table, caught my toe on the table leg, got out to the car and realized I didn’t have my keys.” He still feels that sense of energy when calls come in.
“Chances are that if the fire department shows up at your house, you’re having a bad day. I feel like I can give some type of relief to people in need through this job and what I do with the fire department. This is an area I knew I could help in. This is my family and the area I grew up in,” said Ashmore.
Raised in Landrum, Ashmore has been a part of the Landrum Fire Department’s volunteer staff since 1995. He was elected chief in January 2014 and oversees 24 volunteers and three paid staff.
He also works full time as a chemical operator at BMW Manufacturing in Greer where he has been since 1996. When he is not at work, he most often is at the station.
“I’m either a round-the-clock volunteer, or I’m at work,” said Ashmore.
Volunteerism is a strong trait Ashmore embodies personally. He also instills it in his three children and the members of the Landrum Junior Firefighters Post 17.
Under Ashmore’s leadership, the fire department started a post of junior firefighters, an organization for high school and college-age students who want to explore firefighting as a career.
With ten members aged 14 to 19, the post’s students can work at the station all day during the summer months, and from 3 to 5 p.m. during the school year. They receive training and can accompany staff on certain types of emergency calls.
“We’re eager for them to learn,” said Ashmore about involving students in the day-to-day work of the fire station. The students do not go on haz-mat or bomb threat calls, but in other situations they can be very helpful by retrieving the appropriate tools from the trucks when firefighters determine it is safe for them to do so.
The post is currently raising money to purchase uniform pants, known as BDUs, boots and belts.
“The fire department is in the spotlight,” said Ashmore, who wants to leverage that public prominence to the community’s advantage. The station serves as a year-round drop site for donations of non-perishable food items that are then distributed to various church food pantries, and it participates in Relay for Life and the MDA boot drive.
Ashmore said he travels very little outside the Landrum area except for the occasional vacation or a mission trip. He did travel with a band in his younger days, playing keyboard for the Carey Upton Band.
“That was back when I had Bon Jovi hair,” he said, rubbing his bald head and laughing.
After high school he briefly attended USC Spartanburg (now USC Upstate), before, he said, they suggested he leave and try again later. He transitioned to Spartanburg Tech, but a friend’s death in a car accident caused him to withdraw from school and go to work.
“I just went to work,” said Ashmore, “I never finished my degree. That’s the story of my life. I’m either working or I’m here at the station.”
“The fire station,” he said, “has changed from where it was years ago. Credentials and training are so important and they are continually changing, so we are trying out best to stay current. We want to strive to be the best we can be,” said Ashmore.

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