Page 35 - Salem Magazine Spring 2015
P. 35

                                                    Fire Chief Pat Counts devoted his life to his hometown of Salem with 40 years of service.
If
By Mike Stevens
recently retired Fire and EMS Chief, Pat Counts, had hoped to ease into his leadership role back in 2001, any plans for a gradual
Like all emergency responders, he will never forget that tragic morning or the ramifications of the attacks.
 transition were quickly dashed when the Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists on September 11 of that year.
“The awareness that came about because of it was the biggest thing I remember,” he says. “Our hazmat officials were suddenly extremely busy and instead of dealing with spills and chorine we were suddenly concerned about anthrax and other
“We had known for years that Roanoke, Salem, the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley were possible targets because of the railroads and the arsenal in Radford, so we knew we were in the circle of areas that could have been attacked that day,” he says. “That was quite the start to my tenure.”
chemicals.”
When he retired in December of last
Counts had been in the chief’s chair exactly one day when the entire world was turned upside down.
too bright because when a building is on fire and everyone is running out, they are the ones running in,” he says. ”After 9/11 we all started assessing the
year after 40 years of service to the citizens of Salem, 9/11 remained one of his most vivid
memories.
“It was always said that firefighters aren’t
scene and the surroundings more than ever before.”
www.salemva.gov | SPRING 2015
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