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Fire department selects its next fire chief

Special to the Leader

West Buncombe – Dennis Fagnant, Jr. has been selected to serve as West Buncombe Fire Department’s second paid chief, following the retirement of Chief Randy Ratcliff.

Larry Carr, President of the West Buncombe Fire Department, recently announced the unanimous selection of Fagnant, Jr., who was serving as division chief, to be the next fire chief. Carr said the choice was made very easy for the board, that throughout the promotion process Dennis was the clear choice. “Dennis has tremendous support from the staff, both paid and volunteer, and anything he’s ever worked on for us has just been top notch.” Carr says, “We are excited to work with him in his new capacity as Chief and know he will do an excellent job for the department and community.”

“There is a mix of emotions with this appointment” says Fagnant. “It’s an honor to be selected, humbling to be trusted so completely, and a childhood dream come true.” Fagnant says he’s prepared himself professionally and personally and it’s now time to get to work. “We have a talented and well-trained staff, supporting Board, and an amazing community. I look forward to serving all three in this new capacity.”

Fagnant began his career in the fire service in 1992 at the age of 15 as a Junior Firefighter and ultimately Volunteer Firefighter with the North Cumberland Fire Department in Rhode Island. In July of 1995, at the age of 18, he enlisted into active duty service with the United States Air Force, serving in both the satellite communications field and fire protection.

After 11 years of honorable service to his country, which included multiple overseas assignments, Dennis left active duty service and joined the Town of Weaverville Fire Department where he was quickly promoted to Battalion Chief. One year later, in 2007, Dennis joined the West Buncombe Fire Department as a part-time Firefighter to enjoy his passion of being a “tailboard firefighter.”

In 2017, Dennis was hired as the first paid full-time Division Chief leading Safety and Training for West Buncombe and was promoted to Fire Chief on January 28, 2020. Dennis is nationally credentialed as a Chief Fire Officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University. Dennis is a proud husband and father to his two daughters and enjoys spending time with family, camping, and woodworking.

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