A large crowd came out to show their appreciation for Lanier Swafford at his retirement celebration at Station 1, on Memory Lane in Dawsonville. Photo by Melissa Mayton.
Dawson Fire Chief Lanier Swafford resigns
Longtime Dawson County Emergency Services employee and Fire Chief Lanier Swafford resigned his position April 20. His last day on the job was May 4. Swafford said his decision to resign was “due to some recent changes in the leadership structure of Dawson County Emergency Services.”
County officials demoted Swafford earlier this year from his position of emergency services director and fire chief. In January, County Manager David Headley restructured the department and recently hired Danny Thompson as the new EMS director with Swafford as a direct report.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens for over 25 years,” Swafford said, reflecting on his career. “I wish Director Danny Thompson and Chief Danny Speaks the best in their new positions and am hopeful the community will support them in the same manner they did me. This has been 25 of the greatest years of my life and I will always cherish the friends, families we have served and the memories.”
Local residents were quick to comment on social media about Swafford’s departure. BB&T’s Mandy Power wrote “This is a huge loss for our community! Lanier is an incredible person and advocate for our community.”
Dawson County firefighter Chris Brauda posted his gratitude for Swafford’s leadership. His post reads: “Chief, thank you for your service. I have enjoyed working under your leadership for the 13 years we have been living in Dawson County. You are a great man and a true leader. I wish there was some way to get you to stay. You are the true definition of what a leader should be: others before self.”
Brauda’s post continues, “Even in your leaving, you believe you are doing it for the best interest of the county. For once I would have to disagree with you. We need you and the people of this county need you. Thank you for setting the example for me to follow on how to be a leader. If I am ever half the leader and man that you are, I will be doing good.”
Swafford started as a volunteer firefighter in Dawson County in 1989 and became a full-time firefighter in 1997. Former Emergency Management Services Director and now County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond promoted Swafford to EMS Division Chief in 2007. Swafford succeeded Thurmond as EMS Director in 2015. He has since returned to serve the county in a volunteer firefighter capacity.