Fire Chief Charles Witt receives third annual Robb award

Friday, April 11, 2014 | 6:57 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia Fire Chief Charles Witt has been selected to receive the third annual Dr. Edward Robb Public Servant of the Year Award for his decades of work with the Columbia Fire Department.

The award, given by the Boone County Republican Central Committee, recognizes a Boone County public agency employee who benefits taxpayers with efforts to save and maximize tax dollars, according to a release from the committee.

"We really liked the fact that he provides leadership by example in the fire department and in his work within the community," Committee Chairman C. Bruce Cornett said. "We like small government and good government, and Chief Witt exemplifies that."

Witt was nominated by Mary Ropp of the Bank of Missouri, who said he was "the first and only person to come to mind" when she heard about the award.

Witt joined the Columbia Fire Department about 28 years ago and rose through the ranks before being named chief in 2011, according to previous Missourian reporting.

The release listed several examples of how the fire department has benefited from his leadership. Witt has focused his efforts on keeping his department active in the community. He also participates in the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Witt has also implemented "in station" training programs that allow firefighters to spend much of their training in their neighborhood station so as not to compromise response time to a real emergency, according to the release. He has also maintained his personnel during budget restrictions and kept stations open by seeking grants.

Despite the difficulties of his position, Ropp said that Witt maintains a pleasant attitude and a love for his work.

"He's seen a lot of difficult things, but every time he sees you, his smile is radiant and he has such kind words," she said. "I would take the guess that Chief never works a day in his life, because he loves the people he works with and the people he works for. That's just his spirit."

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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