Fire chief hangs up helmet

Published 12:06 am Saturday, September 8, 2012

VIDALIA — Jack Langston finished his last day in office Friday after nearly two decades as chief of the Vidalia Fire Department.

Langston, who first started as a firefighter with the department in 1990, said it was a bittersweet moment leaving the office for the last time Friday.

“It was kind of mixed emotions,” Langston said. “I’ve been there for so long that it was hard to leave, but it felt good too.”

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Mayor Hyram Copeland said Langston had several weeks of retirement accumulated from over the years and wouldn’t officially retire for several weeks — giving him a good excuse to visit the department.

“He’s done an outstanding job for the City of Vidalia over the years,” Copeland said. “He’s been instrumental in helping move the fire department forward and helping move our rating from a five to a three.

“But all our personnel are trained, and we’ll continue protecting the city.”

Cpt. Johnny Evans was promoted to chief on Friday after several weeks of applicants and interviews.

Evans has been with the Vidalia Fire Department since 1991, leaving for one year and returning in 2008.

Evans said he worked with Langston as a firefighter and learned some invaluable lessons about the department through their time together.

“The department has definitely come a long way (under) Chief Langston,” Evans said. “We want to keep it going in the right direction and help keep that fire rating low for the people of Vidalia.”

Langston said he’d been training Evans for several weeks before officially handing over the reins Friday.

“This job is more of a learn as you go thing, but we’ve been going over just about everything for the past week,” Langston said. “I think Johnny will do an excellent job and he has the support of the rest of the men in the department.”