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Fire Marshal to retire; Youngblood tabbed to top spot

SALISBURY – Rowan County Fire Marshal Tom Murphy will retire at the end of the month. His successor, J. Aaron Youngblood, will take the reigns Dec. 1.
Frank Thomason, emergency services director for the county, set up a panel of interviewers that selected Youngblood after a three-week interview process.
Youngblood called the opportunity a “great honor.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Youngblood said. “I’m excited to get even more involved with the county.”
Murphy’s retirement comes nearly six years after he took over the top job.
Prior to joining the Fire Marshal’s Office, Murphy served 36 years with the Salisbury Fire Department as a firefighter, investigator and fire marshal.
He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In a news release, Murphy noted the development of the department.
“I’m proud of the progress we have made in our inspections program along with the development of the fire prevention ordinance that was adopted this spring,” Murphy said. “It is a step in the right direction for our citizens.”
Youngblood joined the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office in May 2008 as a fire investigator.
An East Rowan grad, Youngblood also holds a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University and several certifications in fire investigation, including one from the International Association of Arson Investigators.
“We were fortunate to have a number of very qualified candidates for consideration,” Thomason said. “We look forward to Youngblood’s leadership and our entire fire division staff to take our fire division to the next level.”
Youngblood praised his former boss Wednesday, saying Murphy had “done it all” during his tenure.
“He pretty much built the inspections portion of what we do in this department,” Youngblood said. “He’s been a great boss, a great mentor. I really can’t say enough about him.”
As the fire division looks to a new chapter, Youngblood said he’s optimistic and enthusiastic about the opportunity.
“I’ve got some big ideas and hopefully we can get them to work out for us,” he said. “It’s pretty big shoes to fill taking over after Tom.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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