Shenandoah County names new fire, rescue chief

Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue operations chief Tim Williams talks on his radio while crews fight a 2014 fire at Strasburg Self Storage Fire off Quarry Lane. Shenandoah County named Williams chief Thursday as a replacement for Gary Yew, who retired Sept. 1. Rich Cooley/Daily

Tim Williams has been appointed Shenandoah County’s new chief of fire and rescue. He replaces Gary Yew, who served in that role for 14 years before his September retirement.

Williams, a native of Strasburg and lifelong resident of the county, served as interim fire chief for Shenandoah County from the time of Yew’s retirement to his appointment Thursday. Williams has also been serving as volunteer chief for the Town of New Market. He said Thursday that he did not know if he would continue to serve in that role.

Williams, 55, has significant experience in the field, with 40 years of fire and rescue experience under his belt. He has served the Strasburg Volunteer Fire Department for 34 years and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department for 25 years as a career firefighter before retiring.

He said the appointment wasn’t something he was necessarily expecting.

“I think anytime you receive something like this, it’s a surprise. I didn’t have any idea who had applied for the position. I’m both honored and humbled at the same time.”

Williams’ first official day as chief was Thursday, and he’s looking forward to helping the department and the residents it serves.

“The first thing we need to do is collaborate with all the stakeholders and that’ll be my first mission – volunteer and career – and come up with a plan to provide service to the citizens in the future.”

Williams’ former position as operations chief came with its share of responsibilities but not as much as chief, he said.

“In the new position, it also encompasses emergency management, which is currently what we’re in the middle of right now, believe it or not,” he said. “We’re preparing for what could be a significant rain event. The fire chief has a lot of other responsibilities that the operations chief does not have.”

Williams said his experience within the department will help him ease into his new role. He will earn an annual salary of $78,560 in that role.

“I’ve worked for Shenandoah County for 11 years so I do know how the county operates and I’m comfortable with how the county functions,” he said. “To that degree there’s not going to be a learning curve for me.”

Mary Beth Price, county administrator, served on a panel of five county and fire personnel that selected Williams from six interview candidates. In total, 21 people applied for the position.

“Tim’s past experience has volunteer and career, and quite frankly his overall interview (set him apart),” Price said. “He did a very good job answering all of the questions. The fact that he has both a volunteer background, a career background is very helpful. … All six that were interviewed were interviewed because of their credentials and experience. And after the interviews that’s when you determine who your top candidate is. (Williams’ selection) was unanimous among the panel.”

The department will be filling the operations chief position shortly. Williams will not perform both roles.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.