Asst. fire chief resigns under pressure

The Charleston Fire Department's Assistant Fire Chief Larry Garvin has retired early, making way for the new fire chief, whoever it might be, to build his own senior staff. Garvin resigned at the request of the interim fire chief.

While Mayor Joe Riley said it has nothing to do with last year's Sofa Super Store fire, any observer has to admit that it will be much easier for the new fire chief to rebuild the department without having the deadly blaze hanging over any of his senior staff. Garvin, who was first on the scene, faced particularly harsh criticism over the tragedy.

From The Post and Courier:

"I had really wanted to leave in March of next year," he said. "Chief (Ronnie) Classen asked me to go ahead and retire."

Garvin and former Chief Rusty Thomas, who stepped down in June, have been criticized in reports examining what went wrong at the Sofa Super Store. One former city councilman, Henry Fishburne, called for Garvin to resign last year.


Riley said he and Classen thought that, as the city searches for a new fire chief, it would help with recruiting to be clear that any new chief will get to choose the department's senior command staff.

Garvin was the second of three assistant fire chiefs to step down. Eddie Bath retired a few weeks ago, and the third — Ronnie Classen, who is currently the acting fire chief — is expected to resign once a full-time chief is hired.

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