Interim chief John Coffey named to fill vacant fire chief position in Black Mountain
Interim Fire Chief John Coffey has been named the new chief of the Black Mountain Fire Department.
"It's been a fun couple past months as interim chief," Coffey said. "I've got lots of plans."
Though Coffey came to the Black Mountain department in April, while former chief Scottie Harris still led the department, he has roughly 25 years experience as a fire fighter and paramedic. He also serves as a reserve sheriff deputy.
Coffey began as a volunteer firefighter in Mars Hill. After going through paramedic school, he worked his way through the ranks, becoming assistant fire marshal in Hendersonville before accepting a position as assistant fire chief in Black Mountain.
Coffey was chosen from a small group of candidates, according to Josh Harrold, town manager. Harrold said Coffey's ability to step in for Harris and continue to lead the department allowed for a smooth transition.
"He is a team player, which is very important for me and for the town as a whole," Harrold said. "To have someone on board that realizes and knows that you need to step across those department lines often to make sure things are getting done and that we're successful."
During his first month as interim chief, Coffey conducted a hazard and threat assessment to evaluate the fire district on common calls and potential hazards. Utilizing this data allowed him to determine best practices for fire and rescue protection.
Coffey said he would like to prioritize increasing staff and stations in the area. He said to adequately serve the community without incident, Black Mountain could use another station and staff engine.
A new station, more staff and another engine would all allow for better community protection, according to Coffey.
"I'm really excited and blessed that Black Mountain has accepted me," Coffey said. "It's been nothing but warm welcomes and open arms since I got here."
Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.