New Fire Chief Settling In After A Month On The Job

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The new Athens Fire Department chief has had time to set goals for his first months in office, but in the first month, he’s been playing maintenance man.

“Physically (in the firehouse), everything seems to break at once,” said Chief Robert Rymer, as he sat in his freshly-painted office.

Rymer took the job after former Chief Robert Troxel retired at the beginning of March. Troxel had worked with the department for 40 years, and Rymer is into his second decade as a firefighter.

Other than fixing roof problems and other mechanical issues around the office, Rymer said the transition into his new position has been relatively smooth.

“We’re trying to get our feet firm in the ground before we start running,” Rymer said.

The next step for the department is to fill the position Rymer left open when he was promoted to the top spot. Tests are being arranged to bring a firefighter up to the rank of lieutenant, which will then leave a vacancy at the lower rank.

“Some applicants have signed up for the test already,” Rymer said. “They take the test in May and then we’ll be going through everything and discussing goals for everyone.”

So far, Rymer said he hasn’t had any surprises on the job and the challenges have all been what he expected when he took the job.

“The administration has been very supportive, and they’ve given me the leeway I need to lead,” Rymer said. “It’s going well, not that I want to jinx it.”