Davidson County (NC) Fire Marshall Perry Tyler Joins Rimkus (Lexington, NC The Dispatch, July 7, 2007)

By SETH STRATTON
The Dispatch

Perry Tyler, DavidsonCounty's fire marshal, has spent most of the last 18 years on call, but a new job has called him to leave his post as the county's top fire official.

Tyler's last day with the county was Friday as he left to take a new job as a fire consultant with Rimkus Consulting Group, a private forensic group that investigates fires for insurance companies and other clients. Tyler said he will continue to live in Lexingtonbut will have to commute a few times a week to the Charlotte office.

"I've spent 18 years here, and it's been one of the better things I've done," Tyler said.

On Thursday, co-workers, friends, family and elected officials dropped by the emergency services building to wish Tyler and his family off. Doug Lowe, emergency services director for the county, has advertised for the new position but knows it will take time to replace the county's fire marshal for the last seven years.

"I've got a very, very hard task in front of me," Lowe said.

Tyler, a graduate of LexingtonSenior High School, has been with the fire marshal's office since 1989 except for about a year with the Winston-Salem Fire Department. He came back to the county when the fire marshal's job opened up about seven years ago.

During his tenure, Tyler helped start several programs to educate the public, both young and old. Tyler and others began a Safe Kids chapter of the nonprofit organization in 2001 in connection with the county health department and several other agencies. The chapter helps sponsor the Itty Bitty Kiddie Festival each spring and educates children on various safety issues.

Tylerassisted in bringing a state program to the county that provided free smoke detectors aimed at the homes of the elderly, disabled and those with small children. One of Tyler's fondest memories is a toy drive this past winter organized by the fire marshal's office that provided Christmas gifts for about 30 families.

"He's going to be missed; he was part of a family here," Lowe said.

When asked which memory will always be with him, Tyler said it wasn't the best memory but one he will always remember: the first fatality he had to investigate. An 18-month-old boy died in a fire set by his 4-year-old brother. Tyler said he won't ever forget that.

Lowe said he and Tyler talked about opportunities in the private sector, but he was a little shocked to see Tyler go so soon. The two didn't always see eye to eye, but that wasn't always a bad thing, Lowe said.

"We debated the issue and talked about what's best for his family," Lowe said. "Perry's always been by my side to give his opinion. If there was another view, Perry had that view. We'll miss his dedication to fire prevention."

With the move to Rimkus, Tyler and his wife, Shawn, will be able to spend more time with their four sons: Joshua Pepper, 17, Cody, 13, Trevor, 7, and Hunter, 5. Pepper is now at Fort Jackson, S.C., completing his basic training for the Army. Tyler said he will complete his senior year of high school this year and then enlist after he graduates.

Shawn Tyler said she is just glad to get rid of the radio and pager from the bedroom.  Being the wife of the fire marshal means constantly changing plans and rescheduling due to emergencies. Now she said her husband will be able to leave some of the workplace stress at the workplace.

"I'm proud.  He's enjoyed his work here," she said. "I may just be saying this because I'm his wife, but it will take someone special to replace him."