PICKENS – The Pickens Fire Department will now be under new direction with the promotion of firefighter Chris Elrod to chief.
“I consider it a great honor to be promoted to the chief position of the Pickens Fire Department,” Elrod said. “It is a great feeling of achievement to progress through the ranks starting with volunteer at this department to now being chief.”
Former chief and longtime employee of the Pickens Fire Department, David Porter, announced his retirement last month during a meeting at City Hall.
During the meeting, Mayor David Owens thanked Porter for his services by saying that he had done a great job.
“We wish David Porter the best in his retirement,” said City Administrator Katherine Brackett. “35 years of service to the citizens of Pickens and our surrounding districts is not something you see in most professions, and it demonstrates his commitment and passion for the job.”
David Porter had been with the department for 35 years and served as its chief since 2007.
“I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as we begin to transition to a city only fire department,” Elrod said. “This department has an exceptional group of firefighters that are willing to serve their community.”
The city received notification last summer that county fire contracts would not be renewed effective July 1, 2014.
“The city was put into a position where we had been notified that we were losing $500,000 in fire contracts with the county,” Brackett said. “In an effort to fund our own fire department, we passed an ordinance establishing fire fees that are the same as Pickens County, and we will be eliminating one position.”
According to city officials, the city will charge an annual fire fee of $75 for residents and a commercial fire fee based on square footage ranging from $75 to approximately $2,000.
“It was important that we keep our own fire department so that we can control fire protection inside the city limits,” Brackett said. “Council determined that it was best to keep control of the fire department and keep a staffed and manned station so that we have the best response time available for everyone inside the City of Pickens.”
Once the county fire contracts expire, the Pickens Fire Department will operate solely inside the city limits.
“We look forward to entering into our transitional period, Brackett said. “Chief Chris Elrod has always been a leader in the department and I am confident he will continue to be one. Chief Elrod has brought in over $110,000 recently in grants to the Fire Department and has implemented online or web based reporting and recording keeping for the department.”
Brackett said that Elrod will make the Pickens City Fire Department operate more efficiently to better serve the citizens and that she looked forward to working with him.
Chief Elrod expressed his gratitude to the City of Pickens and each member of the Pickens Fire Department.
“I would like to thank each member of the fire department for the support they have already shown me and the confidence the leaders of this city have entrusted in me,” Elrod said.