LYNCHBURG, Va. – After 41 years, Lynchburg’s fire chief has announced he will retire at the end of the year.
Chief Steven Ferguson has served the Lynchburg community since 1976.
"I didn't think that when I came that I would be here nearly that long,” Ferguson said. He adds, “I'll be 65 in December and that's a good time to go.”
Ferguson joined the fire department in June 1976. "I remember my first evaluation we actually had a category on there called ‘smoke eaters’. You know, they ask you how well did you take smoke. We didn't have breathing apparatus. You just crawled in and put water on the fire, then try to get a breath of air. Now you go in there without your air pack, you probably get a disciplinary action against you," Ferguson said with a laugh.
Ferguson says over the years things have changed drastically when fighting fires. He says memories of the fatal ones stick out more than the positives. "I think over the last long career of 40 years, you know the department. I don't mean me personally. We saved a lot of people that went on to lead productive lives. And that's a good part about public service,” he said.
Under his leadership the department has been recognized with a number of awards from organizations like the American Heart Association. He said, "I think my legacy I hope to leave here is that [I] was fair, treated everybody equally and took care of the firefighters.” Some say Ferguson did just that, “He bought us through the recession. We didn't lose any positions. We maintained all of the staff during that time. And that's something he should be proud of,” Captain Frankie Campbell said.
After 41 years, Ferguson says, it’s time to spend his days with his wife.. And travel and enjoy the outdoors. The City of Lynchburg says it now will begin a nationwide recruitment process for a new fire chief.