It's official now: Eric Withers is the new fire chief for the town of Stanley.
Withers took the oath of office and assumed his new position this month after being chosen for the job in early April.
Prior to coming to Stanley, Withers served as a battalion chief for the Charlotte Fire Department where he worked for over 18 years. He was also the part-time chief of the Crowders Mountain Fire and Rescue in Bessemer City where he had served since 2001. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Dallas Rescue Squad and a part-time instructor for Gaston College.
Like many others, the Stanley Fire Department has historically been a mostly volunteer organization and the town is in need of more volunteers. The department currently has 30 firefighters, 23 of them career firefighters working part-time shifts.
A 24-hour position was added in January to make sure that someone was on duty and ready when a fire occurs. Response time at night has been reduced to just over four minutes, a lot better than the over 11 minutes it took three years ago.
Greenville, South Carolina, firm Management Solutions for Emergency Services did an assessment on the department last year and said more paid staff is needed. During his interim service as chief, Asst. Chief Michael Hullett asked the Town Council to add another full-time position. It is included in the proposed 2019-2020 budget which will be voted on at the June 3rd Council meeting. The change, if approved, will put someone on duty 24 hours a day. Plans are to have the fire department also begin handling medical emergency calls.
Withers got his Bachelor of Science in Fire Service Administration from Fayetteville State University, and also has an Associate’s Degree in Fire-Protection Technology from Gaston College.
Withers replaces Will Keller who resigned as chief at the end of last October. Assistant Chief Michael Hullett and deputy chief Ashley Price filled in since Keller resigned. Chief Withers will have full-time responsibilities, but will work part-time. Withers had high praise for Keller and for Hullett and Price.
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