The Savannah Fire Department welcomes new Chief Fire Marshal Whitney Williams-Smith. Williams Smith comes from East Point Fire Department, in East Point Georgia, where she served as a fire plan reviewer. She is a certified firefighter who began her fire service career with the Albany Fire Department in 2004. Savannah Fire has been without a permanent Fire Marshal since 2017. However, Savannah Fire Chief Derik Minard established a new salary and criteria for the position, which attracted a large pool of highly skilled candidates. Williams-Smith is the first African American and the first woman to hold the position. She began work this week.
The Office of the Fire Marshal conducts all fire and life safety code enforcement activities through building plans examination and on-site fire inspections. The chief fire marshal oversees issues pertaining to building occupancy, permitting, fire inspections, fire codes, fire ordinances, fire investigations, and fire zones. Savannah’s chief fire marshal and deputy fire marshals meet national training and certification standards for determining code violations and offering violation remedies. They follow state code and local ordinances to ensure that public buildings are safe for occupancy and, in the event of an emergency, occupants can safely escape.
Williams- Smith is the first African American and the first woman to become the Savannah Fire Department’s Chief Fire Marshal.
She began her career in 2004 as a firefighter with the Albany Fire Department in Albany, Georgia. Her older sister and mentor, City of South Fulton Fire Captain Andrea Hall, was Albany Fire’s first female firefighter.
In 2005, Williams Smith took a position with East Point Fire. She worked as a firefighter, EMT and fire prevention officer under Rosemary R. Cloud, the first black woman fire chief in the nation, and Deputy Fire Chief Toni Barnes Washington, a native Savannahian who went on to become City of Decatur Fire Chief.
She holds the following certifications: NFPA Certified Plan Review Examiner, Fire and Life Safety Plan Review, Fire Inspector I, Fire and Life Safety Educator with Daycare Provider, Asbestos Abatement Supervisor, Hazardous Materials Technician, Firefighter II, and EMT-Intermediate.
Her husband, Ronald Smith, Jr., is a firefighter and assistant Fire Marshal in the City of Roswell, Ga. They have two children and three dogs.