Montague brings nearly 20 years of experience, connections to fire department’s newly-created post
By Jonathan E. Coleman
After just a couple of months on the job, Harrisburg Fire Marshall David Montague feels right at home.
That’s not all together surprising since the 43 year old has called Cabarrus County home since his family moved to Midland from Charlotte in 1975.
Furthermore, he’s worked in fire service in Cabarrus and Stanly counties for nearly two decades.
“I got involved in fire service at Flowes Store Fire Department in ‘87-’88,” he said. “I took some CPR classes and one thing lead to another and I got involved in the first responders program.”
In the years since, Montague has served on both Cabarrus County and Stanly County EMS squads, as a paramedic and, most recently as Stanly County’s Emergency Management director.
“The fact that David’s worked around Cabarrus County for the last 15 years, he definitely brought relationships that are going to make him successful,” said Harrisburg Fire Chief Bryan Dunn. “Being the (town’s) first fire marshal, we needed someone who was going to make the transition smooth.”
So far, he’s done that, Dunn said.
As the fire marshal, Montague will be involved in all aspects of fire prevention from looking at building plans to fire safety education, overseeing fire investigations and enforcing fire codes.
“It brings the full package to Harrisburg,” Montague said. “We respond, do the fire suppression and then do the inspection after the incident.”
In the past, many of these services were contracted to the County fire marshal’s office.
Of all of his duties, Montague said his most important job is fire prevention education.
“You’ll put out more fires with prevention that with water,” he said. “But it’s harder to measure because you don’t have that tangible evidence. The work that you put in on the front end is going to benefit you so you don’t have as many incidents on the back end.”
From the outset, Montague has been tasked with creating a Harrisburg Fire Prevention Ordinance, a document the department hopes to present to the Town Council in January to become part of the town’s ordinances. The document will set forth specific guidelines and practices to improve fire prevention.
Montague will also oversee fire investigations.
“Investigations are the challenging part of (the job),” he said. “It’s the ‘Who done it? What happened?’ A lot of times it’s a black hole — you walk in and there’s nothing there.”
He will also be in charge of nearly 400 fire code inspections each year.
“It’s a good fit,” he said of the job. “A lot of what I did in Stanly County was emergency management. I’m bringing some of that here.”
When lobbying the Town Council for $60,000 in his budget to fund a fire marshal’s salary and benefits, Dunn explained that with Harrisburg’s continued growth, the position was needed to help bring more control into the town’s hands. The first step to doing that was to bring the fire department under the scope of the town. Once that process was completed, adding the necessary personnel was the next big step.
Now that Montague is in place, the town can move forward with creating plans to improve fire service and better serve the community, Dunn said. It will be a challenge, but Montague is the right man for the job.
“It’s a new challenge for him,” Dunn said. “Being the first fire marshal for Harrisburg, he gets to set the bar, and those who come behind him will have to raise the bar.”
• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.