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Emergency services director steps back into role of fire chief
County manager reorganizes emergency services department
Swafford mug
Fire Chief Lanier Swafford. - photo by For the Dawson County News

In an email sent to Dawson County Emergency Services employees on Friday, County Manager David Headley announced a reorganization of the emergency services department.

The restructuring moved Chief Lanier Swafford out of the joint role of emergency services director and fire chief and back solely to the position of fire chief, the position he held prior to Billy Thurmond retiring from the director position in December 2015.

In the email, sent at 2:47 p.m. Jan. 12, 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 will 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. 

“Overall responsibility for the department will be placed under supervision of a director of emergency services, to be named at a later date, and to whom the fire chief will report,” Headley’s email reads.

The county will begin running an advertisement for a director of emergency services in Wednesday’s paper.

All new positions took effect on Friday.

Swafford said Monday that he has voluntarily accepted the transfer, but would not speak on specifics.

Swafford will earn $10,211 a year less as a fire chief than he did as the department’s director, according to Headley.

Headley said Friday that after Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield 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.”

Thurmond, chair of the board of commissioners, asked that questions about the day to day operations of the emergency services department be directed to Headley. 

Check back for updates.