A leader who many credit with the current level of success of the Forsyth County Fire Department has announced his retirement.
On Thursday, Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman turned in a notice of intent to retire to County Manager Eric Johnson. Bowman’s last day will be on Tuesday, Oct. 16, the 50th anniversary of his career as a firefighter.
In the letter, Bowman said he was submitting the notice “several months in advance to allow you and the Board of Commissioners sufficient time to determine my replacement.”
“I would be remiss should I not thank, for the record, the thousands of firefighters with whom I have served since 1968; friends and coworkers who have guided me for a half century; and most of all my family who were there every step of the way,” Bowman said in the letter.
Bowman, an Atlanta native and Air Force veteran, began his career as a firefighter in 1968 with the Atlanta Fire Department and transferred to the then-newly formed Fulton County Fire Department in 1977. He came to Forsyth County as a division chief in 2001 and became the county’s director of emergency management, a position he still holds, in 2002.
Bowman was promoted to fire chief in 2003.
“Working with Chief Bowman has been a highlight of my life,” said Division Chief Jason Shivers. “I have been so fortunate and blessed to work directly for him at fire headquarters since 2005. He has taught me more about fire service management, administration and budgeting than I could have ever imagined was possible.
“His 50 years of knowledge and experience are unparalleled, and we as a department and a community are so very fortunate to have benefited from his leadership. He brought the Forsyth County Fire Department into a new era, and we are all indebted to him for his service.”
In 1998, just a few years before Bowman came to Forsyth, the fire department moved from a volunteer to paid service. Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent credited Bowman with making the local department what it is today.
“Chief Bowman ... was the first real fire chief called in that brought us from a volunteer county for firefighters to winning national awards and bring us to a really modern-day fire department that a lot of jurisdictions envy,” Levent said. “We have some of the best equipment, some of the best firefighters, the best training. [The county] is only looking to improve that even more in the next SPLOST.”
Like Levent, several firefighters credited Bowman for advances the department has seen in his tenure.
Firefighter and paramedic Jamie McPherson said he worked with the department before Bowman was chief and credited Bowman for new and rebuilt fire stations across the county, updated equipment and more officers at each station.
“We’ve grown leaps and bounds in the 16 years I’ve been here, and Bowman was a lot of the initiation of that, “McPherson said.
Several of those interviewed referenced the Pierce fire trucks used by the county, a brand considered to be top of the line for fire apparatus.
“That’s due to him wanting us to have the best and the safest stuff,” Lt. Jeremy Hamilton said. “I’ve worked for other departments and it’s night and day between here and some of the smaller departments just in the gear we have, that he’s been able to get for us.”
Those who worked with Bowman described him as both a professional and approachable leader.
“He takes care of his people,” Sgt. Michael Cody said. “[He’s] very approachable. You’re always welcome, he’s got an open door policy in his office, so you’re always welcome to come in and talk to him. [We] hate to see him leave.”