Charles Werner, Fire Chief
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
In the Valley: Harrisonburg, VA.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
1978 with employment to the City as the youngest firefighter (18) hired at the Charlottesville Fire Department . I am currently in my 34 th year at CFD and presently the member with the most seniority.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in the Saddlewood subdivision area of Albemarle County.
Family (spouse, kids, etc)?
I have a fantastic and supportive family with my wife (Judy), daughter (Tyler) and son (Nicholas). As for pets, I have two SPCA adopted mixed breed dogs. Support the SPCA, it’s a great organization.
What were you doing before coming to the fire department?
I was a volunteer firefighter (Harrisonburg Fire Company #1) and volunteer EMT (Harrisonburg Volunteer Rescue Squad) just out of Harrisonburg High School. My first job just prior to coming to Charlottesville was working as an administrative assistance to the fire chief in Harrisonburg.
Your job title is the Charlottesville Fire Chief – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
My job is to identify opportunities and implement programs that will create a safer and better Charlottesville community through individual and organizational relationships/partnerships and in the most fiscally responsible way possible.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being a member of one of the best fire departments in the country and having the opportunity to empower others to do their very best by providing the necessary resources, supporting the personnel and building internal and external personal relationships.
The most difficult part?
The most difficult part of the job is trying to meet all of the community’s expectations, training and requirements (especially following 9/11) with limited and shrinking funds. In addition to firefighting operations, CFD provides emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, high angle/technical rescue services, vehicle extrication, building safety inspections, public fire education and more.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
My job hopefully impacts the average person in a number of ways. First, that it enhances the safety for everyone that lives, works and visits our Charlottesville community. This is focused first through prevention and second by providing the necessary service and care that people will receive during times of tragedy. Lastly, that the work performed by the dedicated personnel at the Charlottesville Fire Department will provide “peace of mind” by knowing that when people need our services, we are just minutes away.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?
The most interesting work experience is when I was involved in a couple of separate residential fires where I was a part of the team that rescued people from burning buildings where they survived and were OK.
As far as projects go, I am presently working on a regional information sharing/geospatial viewer project that will provide a common operational view and help public safety responders visualize incident information and make better decisions during daily emergency operations and catastrophic events. It is a demonstration project which will provide a model that can be replicated in other localities.
What is a little known fact about you?
I am a ‘Trekker’ or ‘Trekkie” – that’s right, I am a huge Star Trek fan…but don’t tell anyone.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc?
I like to do target shooting with my son. Occasionally and when I have time, I like to fish. I also serve on a number of non-profit Boards (ParadeRest and the National Public Safety Alliance for GIS).