Second fire chief of Warner Robins dies

jburk@macon.comFebruary 3, 2014 Updated 20 hours ago

Larry West, the second chief of the Warner Robins Fire Department, died on Sunday. He was 72.

West served the department for 36 years, with the last 15 spent as fire chief before retiring in October 1999. As chief, West managed 95 employees and six fire stations.

Mayor Randy Toms, a former firefighter himself, remembered West as a great leader.

“He had this way of making you give your best because you knew he demanded it. But he didn’t have to say he did,” said Toms, who was hired by West. “It was just the way he operated and pushed you ... that you knew he demanded your best.”

Toms credited West with helping him get back on a fire truck after getting hurt.

“I never would have done it if he hadn’t of pushed me,” Toms said. “If it wasn’t for Chief West, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

West joined the fire department when he was 21 years old and rose through the ranks. He was a training officer before taking over when Chief Ernest Wood retired. West oversaw the opening of a fire station on the west side of the city and helped with plans to put a station on the south end of town.

“He was just about growing the fire department and protecting the city as best he could,” Toms said.

Councilman Mike Davis, who was a firefighter for 33 years, said West led firefighters to raise more than $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association over the years.

“He was my boss, my leader, my mentor, my friend,” said Davis. “Any adjective that goes toward ‘good,’ he fits.”

Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. Saturday at McCullough Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Bonaire United Methodist Church, with burial following in Magnolia Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be given to the Bonaire United Methodist Church Building Fund or Heart of Georgia Hospice.

West “really believed in the community. He really believed in Warner Robins,” Davis said.

“More than anything, he’s going to be missed as a friend.”

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