After 35 years at the helm of the Fayetteville FD, Chief Vernon officially gets sworn in

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – John Vernon has been the fire chief in Fayetteville since 1985, but recently he realized after all these years, he never had his official swearing-in ceremony. 

“I yearly search the code of the State of West Virginia to see if there’s been any changes, and I just happen to cross part of the state code that requires emergency personnel has to be sworn in and gives the swearing-in ceremony,” Chief Vernon said.  

He says he believes this was added to the code after 9/11, so he was already well into his tenure when departments, cities and towns first started swearing in emergency personnel.

As the town and fire department prepared to swear in their new assistant chief Stephen Harp, it was a perfect opportunity for Chief Vernon to join in on the ceremony. 

“He said, ‘Would you mind swearing me in to my office as fire chief? Because I’ve never been sworn in,’” Fayetteville Mayor Sharon Cruikshank said. “And of course, if anyone’s going to support the fire department, it’s going to be us. We were happy to do that and so I’m pleased Chief Vernon as well as Assistant Chief Harp will be serving the Town of Fayetteville.” 

While Vernon says having that moment at Thursday’s council meeting was an honor, he says he is just excited to continue what truly brings him the most pride, and that’s working for Fayetteville. 

“It’s an honor to serve the town,” Chief Vernon said.  “It’s an honor to serve the citizens of the town and the county. They’ve supported fire departments in this town since early 1980s when they passed the first fire levy, and they just passed it again this last year. It’s always an honor to help people. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re volunteers.” 

Chief Vernon says he has not set plans for retirement, but he is looking forward to continue training his next leaders.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.