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New Botetourt Fire Chief says he wants to follow his predecessor's lead

Matt Britt has been named the new Fire and EMS Chief for Botetourt County. (Photo: Annie Andersen)

BOTETOURT Co., VA (WSET) -- Starting May 22, Matt Britt will become Botetourt County's new fire and EMS chief.

He succeeds Jeff Beckner, who died unexpectedly in June.

Beckner's death hit his department hard, both professionally and personally.

Lt. Douglas "Farley" Anthony knew Chief Beckner for almost a decade before he died. Since his death, he says he has been "A little lost." He added, "He was a friend, he was a leader. He be on the front lines with us. Definitely a go to person for counseling for any fire service needs."

Beckner's larger than life persona extended past the fire house doors.

County Administrator Gary Larrowe says when he learned he would be coming to Botetourt County, "Chief Beckner was the first person to reach out to me. And so it was a very very difficult task. We became very close friends and then to have this untimely death was horrible for all of us."

Botetourt County took almost a year to make sure they picked the right successor.

Britt, coming from North Carolina, says he knows he has big shoes to fill. "Chief Beckner had a great impact on this county, not only his personality, but his goals and the things he instituted in the department," said Britt.

Filling those shoes is something both Britt and his team are looking forward to trying to do.

"It's going to be a continuation of leadership. One chief had to step down, now another one's here. it's just the way it works," said Anthony.

Britt assured, "I'm not here to replace Chief Beckner. I may be filling his position with the county, but I'm here to carry on what he started."

Britt will start May 22. He and his dog are excited for their move to Botetourt County. Britt has a partner who is a teacher in North Carolina right now. He says she plans to move to the area as soon as she finds a job.

In a news release, Botetourt County described Britt's background.

"For the past year and a half, Britt has served as the Coordinator of Fire and Rescue training for Randolph Community College in Asheboro, North Carolina. Previous to that, he served for eight years as a professional firefighter for the Town of Southern Pines in central North Carolina. Britt also has 13 years of volunteer fire service and seven years of volunteer leadership. Lastly, he spent six years in the United States Marine Corps, earning an honorable discharge in 2010.

In addition to his professional service, Britt has a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in emergency services management and a Bachelor of Science degree in fire administration, both from Columbia Southern University. He has completed the Managing Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and has been accepted into the Executive Fire Officer Program beginning this fall."

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