West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – Former West Columbia Fire Chief Wyatt Coleman was recognized by the SC Senate recently after serving the community in various capacities with the fire department for 40 years. Coleman retired in September of this year. He was presented with the resolution by Senator Nikki Setzler who has lived in, served, and represented the West Columbia area for many years himself.
Coleman grew up on a farm in South Georgia and joined the West Columbia Fire Department as a volunteer in January of 1977. He quickly discovered he had a passion for helping others and became a full-time firefighter that same year.
Over the course of his career with the West Columbia Fire Department, Coleman has served as an Engineer 1, Lieutenant, Captain, and was later promoted to the position of the department’s chief. He was considered to be a balanced professional who had great compassion for both the citizens of the area and the people who worked for him. It was said that he treated his crews like family while maintaining composure and a strong sense of duty in handling difficult issues, including the catastrophic floods of 2015.
Chief Coleman undertook a number of detailed projects during his tenure. This including the purchase of a new fire engine and other specialized equipment, the enhancement of the emergency medical services program, an increase in fundraising for the Burned Children’s Fund of MUSC, the improvement of auto aid agreements with the county and surrounding municipalities, and the improvement of the city’s ISO rating. He also embraced the expanded role of the fire department, from having his department’s personnel act as first responders, to adding training and equipment for a river rescue team, and many other non-traditional roles.
During his years of service, Chief Coleman has been a member of the South Carolina State Firefighters Association, the South Carolina Fire Chief’s Association, West Columbia’s Safety Committee, and Lexington School District Two’s CATE Advisory Committee. He was also selected as West Columbia’s Firefighter of the Year in 1983, 1992, and 2002.
Coleman has been married to his wife Carol for seventeen years. He has one daughter, Holly, and a step son, Gordon Herndon. He is also an avid fisherman in his spare time.
In honor of these accomplishments and service, a framed copy of this resolution was presented to Chief Wyatt Coleman.