2012-02-15 / Front Page

Caggiano city’s new fire chief

By LARRY HILLIARD Ledger Staff Writer larry@gaffneyledger.com

CAGGIAno CAGGIAno Twenty years of climbing the fire ladder, rather than the corporate ladder, has led Jamie Caggiano to be the City of Gaffney’s next fire chief.

A firefighter for 20 years, Caggiano — the grandson of Sunny Slope founder Louis Caggiano — was named to the position Tuesday. He replaces Nathan Ellis, who resigned late last year.

Caggiano had been serving as the fire chief of Cowpens. He also is currently employed by Spartanburg County EMS.

“I’m excited about the position,” Caggiano said. “Fire service is a challenge every day. Not that there are any problems with (the city’s fire department) but I’m looking forward to the challenge of improving the fire service.”

In-house candidates, fire training/safety officer Scott Coleman and fire captain Jody Brasington were the other finalists.

While acknowledging that all three finalists were qualified, Gaffney Mayor Henry Jolly said Caggiano brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.

“He’s been involved in fire service for a long time and a volunteer firefighter since he was 18,” Jolly said. “He’s presently a fire chief and he possesses management and business skills.”

Jolly, a big South Carolina booster, joked the only blemish on Caggiano’s resume is that he’s a graduate of Clemson University.

Caggiano is wellrespected among the firefighting community, serving as chairman of the Spartanburg County Fire Advisory Board.

A total of 28 people submitted applications for the job. Gaffney Administrator James Taylor whittled that number to three finalists, who were interviewed Monday by Gaffney City Council.

After council returned from closed-door interviews, Taylor was instructed to offer the job to an unnamed candidate.

“I’m pleased that (Caggiano) accepted,” Taylor said. “We had three really qualified candidates. It was a tough decision.”

Taylor said Caggiano has both “management and financial” skills to bring to the position.

In particular, Caggiano has been successful in obtaining federal grants for the Cowpens Fire Department.

“It wasn’t just me,” Caggiano said. “But (Cowpens) has been successful in getting federal grants through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).”

According to Caggiano, the Town of Cowpens received grant money to purchase a vehicle and turnout gear for the fire department.

The new chief will take over March 1 and will earn $49,600, the same salary as his predecessor.

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