Dan Howell, a longtime member of the Martinsville Fire Department, will take over the role of Martinsville Fire Chief following the retirement of Ted Anderson Jr.
Howell has been with the department since 1996, and has untaken many different roles during that time, climbing his way up the ranks.
“I’ve been employed here since 1996. I became a lieutenant in 2001, a captain in 2002, assistant chief in 2006, and then fire chief in 2023,” Howell said.
However, he was involved in firefighting as a volunteer long before.
“I’ve been a volunteer firefighter in Patrick and Henry counties since 1987. I’ve been a member of the Patrick-Henry Volunteer Fire Department since ’87 and I’m still active there,” he said.
Howell believes that his various roles and working his way through the ranks has prepared him for his current position.
However, Howell also holds degrees in business, and he believes this education has also served to prepare him.
“I’ve been employed through the City of Martinsville for 26 years. I’ve been in the fire service combined since 1987. I have an associates, bachelors and master’s degree in business, and I’ve just got a lot of experience with the department, working with the city, and serving the community,” he said.
According to Howell, the new position represents a shift for him – from operations to an administrative role.
“I’ve spent the last 26 years in operations, so I either spent all my time in an ambulance or on a fire engine. Now, I’ll spend most of my time in an office behind a desk. I’ve moved into an administrative role from an operational role,” he said.
He said there are some duties that need to be fulfilled early on in the position, mainly revolving around employment in the department. Getting positions filled in one of his goals as chief.
“We’ve got some promotions we need to complete and get some positions filled. We’ve got some vacancies, and then just moving the department forward.”
Howell believes that staffing is one of the biggest challenges facing the department.
“Recruiting new firefighters and hiring those and retention of firefighters” are all challenges, he said.
However, there are also some things that Howell believes are going well within the Martinsville Fire Department.
“We have a lot of services that we provide beyond just fire and EMS. We’re also responsible for emergency management within the department. Fire inspections and investigations, the department’s responsible for all of those in the city,” Howell said.
“We also have a community health worker now that goes out, works with people who are in need in Martinsville, Henry, and Patrick County, so those are all programs that I fully support and will do everything I can to keep them moving,” he said.
“We’ve got a great group of people here and I look forward to working with each and every one of them,” he said, and added that when he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family, including his wife and two daughters.