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Fire Chief Harvey given heroic send-off in retirement

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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Retiring Greer Fire Chief Chris Harvey was honored with a reception Tuesday at City Hall. Harvey is pictured with his son, Justin, who is a firefighter with the Wade Hampton Fire Department on Wade Hampton Boulevard.
 

Jim Fair

Retiring Greer Fire Chief Chris Harvey was honored with a reception Tuesday at City Hall. Harvey is pictured with his son, Justin, who is a firefighter with the Wade Hampton Fire Department on Wade Hampton Boulevard.

 



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Fire Chief Chris Harvey with his wife, Donna.
 

Jim Fair

Fire Chief Chris Harvey with his wife, Donna.

 



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Mayor Rick Danner honors retiring Fire Chief Chris Harvey with the key to the city and other gifts for his 38-years of service.
 

Jim Fair

Mayor Rick Danner honors retiring Fire Chief Chris Harvey with the key to the city and other gifts for his 38-years of service.

 



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Two grandchildren will occupy Chris Harvey in his retirement.
 

Jim Fair

Two grandchildren will occupy Chris Harvey in his retirement.

 



Seeing smoke billowing from a neighbor’s yard a young Amy Harvey called 911, thinking a house was on fire.

The call turned out to be a neighbor cooking on an outdoor grill but Amy reacted to seeing smoke, just as her father, Greer Fire Chief Chris Harvey taught his children and hundreds of others on fire safety.

“He not only taught us, but the neighbors fire safety when we were young,” Justin, his son, said.

Justin, who started as a volunteer firefighter in Greer, is at the Wade Hampton fire station on Wade Hampton Boulevard. “(My father) showed me around the trucks, air packs and told me what to expect. He never pushed me to become a firefighter,” Justin said.

“We had one neighboring child who wouldn’t go to bed because the batteries were left out of the smoke alarms in her house,” Justin said. “She was scared because my dad told her how important it was to have the batteries in fire/smoke alarms.”

Harvey, his wife, Donna, and Justin were at City Hall Tuesday for a reception given in honor of Harvey’s retirement and 38 years of service with the city. Harvey's daughter, an elementary school teacher, was unable to attend.

The social preceded City Council honoring Harvey with Mayor Rick Danner presenting the fire chief the key to the city. A portrait of Harvey has been commissioned where it will be displayed at the city’s fire station.

Danner said advances made in fire safety and techniques may have been among the biggest gains in the city since Harvey joined the fire department. He made his point, joking, “Then, you knew it was time to get out of the building when your boots melted or when your ears were on fire. It’s truly come a long way.”

Danner, has worked with Harvey for 16 years since becoming mayor. “I can’t think of somebody who better exemplifies their work through their life than Chris Harvey,” Danner said. “It’s amazing to have somebody with an organization that has the kind of track record and dedication that Chris has.”

Harvey, who has been a popular fire chief and served as past president of the South Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, reflected on his tenure and staff. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a great bunch of individuals,” Harvey said. “It’s truly my honor and to have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with them and others to have gone on before me.”

The first year Harvey worked for the city, “I made $7,700 and I thought if I ever made $10,000 I would be in the big time. I finally made it and that’s why I am retiring now,” he said as council and attendees laughed.

“I never dreaded coming to work,” Harvey said. “I’ve always enjoyed it because every day is always different.”

Justin said he’s heard the compliments from others directed to his father. “I feel like it’s a lot to live up to,” Justin said. “My whole life I have heard and seen how he has treated people with respect. Of all the things I have heard repeatedly is his commitment to his job.”

Harvey’s retirement is official Friday, the same day Dorian Flowers, former chief at Hendersonville, N.C., takes over as the City of Greer’s new fire chief. Flowers has been in Greer the past week learning personnel, equipment and procedures.

 

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