Chiefs of the Department


Since its "official" organization in 1922, the Tryon Fire Department has been directed by 27 different fire chiefs.  From 1922 until 1988 the department held elections, typically every 2 years to determine a new chief.  Until 1979 the department had a tradition of promoting the assistant fire chief and other officers (captain, lieutenant) up one step.  This tradition changed in 1979 when the department elected Clarence Scoggins to his second tenure as Chief.  Having already served 2 years as chief in the 1960's, Scoggins would lead the department until his retirement in 1988.  His eleven years as Chief are the most of any person - paid or volunteer.  Scoggins would also lead Polk County as its first fire marshal, and the annual Tryon FD's Firefighter of the Year would later be renamed in his honor.  Both Scoggins and his wife would pay for the prestigious award themselves each year until both passed away.

The department has also had a father/son combination lead the department.  Robert Carroll Scoggins, Sr. was elected Chief in 1971 and served until 1973.  His son, Robert C. Scoggins, Jr. (Bob) would take the reigns some 30 years later and lead the department from 2003 until 2005.

In 1972 Jimmy Lankford joined the Tryon Fire Department as a volunteer and worked his way up to Assistant Chief.  In 1988 the Town of Tryon opted to move the Chief position to a paid position and named Lankford as the first paid chief.  Lankford would serve until his retirement in 2003.  At that time the Town and department opted to return to a volunteer position and Bob Scoggins, who had served as Assistant Fire Chief was elected to the position his father had taken in 1971.

After much discussion, dissent, and debate, the Town again decided in 2005 to move the position of Fire Chief back to a paid position.  The Town, and township, had sustained much growth and the increased amount of fire calls, EMS responses, and mandated paperwork were critical factors in the Town Council's decision to hire a full time Chief.  After conducting interviews the Town announced that Michael Coggins, from Asheville Fire Department, had been selected as Fire Chief.  Coggins began his tenure in the summer of 2005 and would serve until the following October when he opted to return to Asheville.  The interview process in the fall of 2006 came down to three finalists and Chris Burelson, an assistant chief at Enka-Candler Fire Department was chosen as Tryon's 26th fire chief.  In April 2007 Chief Burleson announced his resignation and the Town turned to Joey Davis, a finalist in the 2006 interview process.  Davis was no stranger to Polk County.  In 2004 he served as the county's first full time fire marshal - the role former Tryon Chief Clarence Scoggins had volunteered for.  A native of Shelby, North Carolina, Davis had served since 1999 with the City of Kings Mountain Fire Department, and after leaving Polk County in late 2004 had remained on the volunteer roster with Columbus Fire Department.  Davis had risen through the ranks and was serving as the Deputy Fire Chief at Columbus when he was named Tryon's 27th fire chief.  Chief Davis holds as Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Columbia Southern University, and is a candidate for a Doctorate in Business Administration from CSU.  He holds the designations of "Chief Fire Officer"  and "Fire Marshal" from the Commission on Professional Credentialing.  Davis also is a certified fire and explosion investigator through the National Association of Fire Investigators as well as a Fire Investigation Technician through the International Association of Arson Investigators.  From January 2012 until August 2016 Davis also served as Tryon's Town Manager.  During that tenure Davis received his Credentialed Manager status from the ICMA. 


Chief Dates of Service
1922-1928 Mr. Hill
1928-1932 W.A. Wilson
1933 B.B. Bishop
1933-1935 W.W. Creasman
1935-1940 Jim Fisher
1940-1942 J.S. Arledge
1943-1947 Homer Arledge
1947-1952 Eb Bishop
1952-1954 Birch Arledge
1954-1956 W.M. Ballew
1956-1958 Wofford Foster
1958-1961 Jack Ford
1961-1963 Sam McClure
1963-1965 Robert Dedmont
1965-1967 Clarence Scoggins
1967-1969 Melvin Phillips
1969-1971 James Cowan
1971-1973 Robert C. Scoggins, Sr. (Carroll)
1973-1975 Robert Earl Arledge
1975-1977 Willie "Roy" Williams
1977-1979 Frank Flynn
1979-1988 Clarence Scoggins
1988-2003 Jimmy Lankford
2003-2005 Robert C. Scoggins, Jr. (Bob)
2005-2006 Michael Coggins
2006-2007 Chris Burleson
2007-Current Joey Davis