Chapel Hill News

Carrboro fire chief, deputy resign

Carrboro fire Chief Travis Crabtree resigned Jan. 30 after nearly 10 years with the department.
Carrboro fire Chief Travis Crabtree resigned Jan. 30 after nearly 10 years with the department.

CARRBORO A fire chief and his deputy resigned earlier this year, leaving the Carrboro Fire-Rescue Department looking for new leadership.

Fire Chief Travis Crabtree resigned from the department Jan. 30, citing “personal reasons,” town spokeswoman Julie Eckenrode said. His deputy chief, Richard Cox, resigned about a week later. Personnel laws would not allow her to elaborate, she said.

Crabtree did not return a call seeking comment Friday. Cox, who was reached at his home in Graham, verified he had left the department before hanging up the phone.

“I’m not interested in talking about it,” Cox said.

The town has hired an interim chief, Rusty Styons, who is retired from the Raleigh Fire Department after 30 years.

Town Manager David Andrews said the goal is to have a new chief by July. He declined to address why Crabtree and Cox left but said the town has “a great group of firefighters.”

“They all love their jobs,” Andrews said. “We want them to love their jobs and Carrboro.”

Developmental Associates, a Durham-based recruitment company, recommended Styons for the interim role, Eckenrode said. The company is looking now for a new Chapel Hill fire chief to replace Dan Jones, who will retire May 1, and also will handle Carrboro’s search for a permanent chief.

Crabtree joined the department in September 2005, after eight years with the Raleigh Fire Department and nearly six years with Cary’s department. He was promoted to fire chief in 2006, when former Chief Rodney Murray resigned. Murray had been charged with stalking and driving while impaired; he died later that year.

Crabtree hit the ground running, guiding the town through the construction of second, state-of-the-art fire station on Homestead Road and securing a $314,262 SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hire 15 new firefighters to the department.

The anticipation of having a role in building the new fire station, he said in a 2006 interview, was one of the primary reasons for his move from Raleigh to Carrboro. The department now has 37 full-time personnel and also added a new fire engine in September.

Crabtree had focused more recently on accreditation as a way to improve the department’s service and its response to emergencies and disasters. The department is registered with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, the first step to gaining full accreditation, but has not applied for the self-assessment process.

It’s not clear at this point whether the department will continue to seek accreditation, Andrews said. The town definitely wants to provide its firefighters with more training opportunities, he said, and keep improving what they do.

“We’re waiting to get the next chief to have him evaluate the department to see which way we want to go,” Andrews said.

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