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New Long Meadow chief is no novice

January 17, 2000

New fire chiefBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Growing up the son of a volunteer firefighter, John Latimer IV spent almost as much time at the Long Meadow fire station as he did at his Briarcliff Drive home, he said.

"It's been in my blood for as long as I can remember," Latimer said.

It came no surprise to his family when he joined the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co. after he turned 16 in 1991.

Latimer, who is trained as an emergency medical technician, rose through the ranks quickly and was voted fire chief last December.

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He took office Jan. 1, replacing Richard Roche. Roche accepted a paid position with a Pennsylvania fire department and did not run seek the office again.

Born and raised in the Long Meadow area, Latimer graduated in 1992 from St. Maria Goretti High School. He received a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Emory and Henry College in Emory, Va., in 1996, and it was there he met his future wife, Cassandra. They were married in October 1996.

During his college years he stayed active in the fire service, volunteering with Glade Spring Fire Co. in Emory, Va., and at Long Meadow during school breaks.

He has been employed by Wright Gardner and Tischer Insurance in Hagerstown for more than three years.

Long Meadow's 20 active firefighters go on about 544 calls for service a year. Last year Latimer went out on 230 of those calls and hopes to equal that amount in 2000, he said.

Firefighters at Long Meadow shouldn't expect to see a lot of changes under his direction, he said.

Years of dedicated service by volunteers at Long Meadow have provided "solid foundation" for him to build on, he said.

At 25, Latimer is one of the youngest fire chiefs in the company's history.

He was appointed lieutenant in 1997 and was elected assistant chief and chief in subsequent years.

Latimer said he is not a novice and has more than 10 years of experience as a firefighter.

Latimer said he will rely on the help and advice of older, more experienced firefighters at Long Meadow, such as Deputy Chief Justin Mayhue.

"He's an icon at Long Meadow and he's been a mentor for me," said Latimer.

Mayhue, 38, has been a firefighter for 22 years and was first elected fire chief at Long Meadow when he was 27.

He was elected again a few years later, serving a total of five years as chief.

Latimer is a natural for position of fire chief and should excel in the position, Mayhue said.

"He's the kind of person we look for in leadership positions. He learns quickly and has common sense. He stays calm during emergencies," he said.

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