The search for Winchester’s next fire chief has come to an end, and although that search was nationwide, Chief William Anthony Garret has actually called Virginia home all of his life.

“I am a fourth generation descendant from one of the oldest African American communities in Fairfax called Gum Springs, on the border of gum springs is a fire station, Mt. Vernon fire station, as a young kid I would often go by the fire station.” Garrett says.

Garrett says all those years of hanging around the Mt. Vernon Fire Station and getting to know firefighters lead him to volunteer and eventually he joined the Fairfax county fire department. After putting in 33 years there, he’s ready to take on Winchester.   

“I know I come from a larger organization to a smaller one but the experiences are transferable a life and the need to save that life and or challenge whatever it is to prevent that property from being damaged it’s the same over there as it is here.” Garrett says.

He says fire and rescue is constantly evolving, and one of his main goals is for the Winchester Fire and Rescue team to be proactive in identifying and meeting the needs of the ever-changing community. 

“Challenges of a fire and rescue department today are more medical, meeting the needs of the community, keep everyone safe improve quality of life.” Garrett says.

He says that the quality of life for both staff and volunteer members of the department is also his top priority.

“The best asset we have going for us is our workforce and I need to make sure they are well taken care of and I’ll start with that as my template.” Garrett says.

During his swearing in ceremony earlier this week Garrett made sure to let the community know that his success as chief of the department relies heavily on their input and long-term collaboration. 

 “I have what I think in my mind what the city needs to go forward, but they just can’t be just from within my head, it has to be from the people who are within the city, city leadership, the workforce, the community, the business community as well, we all have to come together.” Garrett says.

Chief Garrett says he also plans to work with the community to  recruit and retain more volunteers for the department.