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County hires new emergency services director
FB DCN Government County

After a restructuring of the department earlier this year, Dawson County Manager David Headley has announced that a new emergency services director has been hired.

Franklin “Danny” Thompson, a 28-year public service veteran, was recently hired to replace Lanier Swafford, who formerly held the joint role of fire chief and emergency services director.

The restructuring divided the role and Swafford retained the title of fire chief. 

Thompson, 46, retired from the Sandy Springs Fire Department in 2016 as fire captain and departmental training officer.

According to his resume, he was instrumental in developing a training program for the newly-formed city after joining the department in 2006. As captain he worked to develop a local Traffic Incident Management Team in Sandy Springs and recruited members, facilitated meetings and gained support for the program.

He currently works for Parsons Corporation as a Traffic Incident Management Specialist and is project manager for the South Carolina Department of Transportation Traffic Incident Management and State Highway Emergency Program. There he is responsible for assisting and educating responders statewide in effective safe, quick clearance on all of South Carolina’s interstate and highway systems, overseeing day-to-day operations and managing a $1.7 million budget.

Thompson has also served as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic with the Dawson County emergency services department since 2013 and as captain paramedic with the city of Roswell Fire Department since 2007.
He previously worked as fire captain with the Henry County Fire Department, as well as with the Butts County Fire and Rescue, Butts County Sheriff’s Department and City of McDonough Police.

He has lived in the county for around seven years with his wife Marji and their children.

Thompson said he saw an advertisement for the position and decided that as a Dawson County resident and instructor for police and fire departments across the country, he wanted to make a difference in the place where he lives and where his family calls home.

He also knows most of the employees that he will now supervise, having worked with the county for the past five years.

With extensive experience in public safety and law enforcement, Thompson said it's that background he’ll be pulling from to “mold a rapidly growing county and a rapidly growing fire and EMS department.”

Along with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department, Thompson summed up the most important tasks he will oversee.

“My job is ensuring we can provide adequate fire suppression for citizens and businesses and provide emergency medical services to residents and visitors to the county, as well as to be sure we’re prepared for any weather related emergencies that come up,” Thompson said.

Thompson will assume the new role May 7.

“We look forward to Director Thompson beginning in his new role in early May,” Headley said. “He is a consummate professional who, I’m confident, will take our emergency services department to new heights alongside the men and women who work so hard every day to provide excellent fire and emergency medical services to our community.”

The restructuring of the department was announced via an email from Headley on Jan. 12.

In the email, Headley stated he had “made several observations regarding the effectiveness” of the current emergency services organizational structure and that he had “seen changes in the administrative functions necessary to support the higher standard of service and responsiveness we have come to expect.

“I am developing an organizational structure designed to increase accountability, more evenly distribute workload and foster collaboration,” the email continues. “The combination of these enhancements will improve emergency services administration and ultimately provide improved service to our residents.”

The email detailed that in Swafford’s new position, he would be in charge of administration and oversee a deputy chief and battalion chiefs.

The deputy chief position has been accepted by Danny Speaks, formerly an assistant chief, who will be in charge of operations and training. Ricky Rexroat, formerly deputy chief of administration, voluntarily resigned Jan. 12.

Headley said April 12 that after former Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield (who is now running for District 3 county commissioner) retired in December, he decided to make some changes to the structure of the department to "have more clarity and diversify the positions."

“This reorganization is not meant to diminish the work currently being performed by our work force, nor devalue those efforts,” Headley’s email reads. “Neither is it intended that any employee lose any future opportunities.”