August 8, 2023
Ben Bowers is excited to get back to his hometown and begin as the Newberry Fire Department’s first Fire Marshal. Bowers started in the position on July 31.
Born and raised in Newberry, Bowers started with Newberry Fire Department when he was 16 through the Explorer program, later becoming full-time after graduating from high school.
After working with the fire department for over 10 years, Bowers has since served as the fire inspector and fire marshal for the University of South Carolina as well as a fire marshal for Laurens County.
“Throughout this time, I was still volunteering with the Newberry Fire Department, so I’ve never truly been away,” Bowers said.
When asked why he wanted to get back to the department, Bowers described it as home.
“I’m excited about this position. It’s been needed for a long time,” he said. “It’s also great to see the department moving forward and doing a lot of good things. It’s something I really wanted to be a part of.”
Fire Chief Gene Shealy says the fire department has had individuals on shift in the past that were fire marshal certified, but they have never had a dedicated person on staff to handle these types of tasks daily.
The fire marshal position will not only handle fire inspections and fire investigations but will also coordinate the department’s public education programs and be over recruitment and retention efforts. Shealy said this creates consistency in the inspection process that the Newberry Fire Department has never had before. It will also give the department someone daily that can assist with any matters that may arise.
“It creates a relationship between the fire department and our local businesses that is consistent, but more importantly, one that is transparent,” Shealy said.
Shealy said his overall goal would be for this position to create a safer community for citizens by giving business owners and employees in local businesses a guide for where they need to be through education and to form relationships with community partners.
Bowers agreed with Shealy in that getting a consistent voice for the city’s fire prevention efforts that will include both code enforcement and public education would be critical to success. From the recruitment and retention side of the position, Bowers said he was looking forward to keeping an emphasis on not only recruiting good individuals for the department, but keeping the ones they have through a good work environment.
“Being in the fire service is something I’ve loved since I was a kid,” Bowers said. “Being able to bring that love to Newberry’s citizens is something that I think will help me to serve and give my best effort.”
Bowers added that the fire department had an open-door policy and that if the community wanted to reach out with questions about volunteering, they were available at 803-321-1030.
Bowers began with the Newberry Fire Department as fire marshal on July 31.