By Al Dozier
Irmo Fire Marshal Jeff Allen is retiring from a post he has held for 22 years. Allen ended his tenure at the end of 2016 after an extensive career in code enforcement and arson investigation.
It’s the kind of job that leaves stark memories. One episode he won’t forget involved a female serial arsonist who set fire to several homes in 2006. Another involved the death of two children in an apartment fire in the St. Andrews area in 2013.
But overall Allen said it was a good career that followed the steady growth of Irmo’s population and an ever increasing number of calls that now number more than 3,000 a year. He said he has always enjoyed a good working relationship with the town of Irmo and with the Irmo Police Department.
As he looks back on what could be improved, Allen said it is the same needs as many other local fire departments throughout the state: limited funding resources.
“We have been lucky to get some grants,” he said.
Allen’s service to the community went well beyond his role as fire marshal. He has a long record as an instructor for public safety agencies on arson, code enforcement, and leadership. He also serves on advisory boards for non-profit organizations that focus on prevention of child abuse.
Irmo Fire Chief Michael Sonefeld said Allen began his service as a volunteer in 1994. He became a full-time marshal in 1997.
“He’s done a great job with codes.”
Sonefeld said Allen is respected statewide as a speaker and instructor on fire safety issues.
Fire Prevention Officer Brian Haley will serve as Irmo’s new fire marshal.
Irmo Mayor Hardy King said Allen has always responded well with town officials and he has enjoyed a good relationship as long as he has known him.
“He does a great job,” said King.