Barnes named new county fire chief

Veteran Clark County firefighter and officer Ernie Barnes became the department’s latest chief Thursday.

Barnes, a 19-year department veteran, was officially promoted during Wednesday’s Clark County Fiscal Court meeting. Barnes succeeds Billy Jones, who retired after slightly more than three years as  chief.

“I don’t want this to be about me,” Barnes said after his children pinned his new badge and insignia on his uniform Wednesday. “It’s about the guys in my department. I’m going to do everything I can to take care of those guys.”

Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said Barnes was one of three internal candidates for the position.

Barnes, a Clark County native, said he got interested in the fire service while he was in college.

“I talked to some firefighters I knew,” he said. “They said it was better to get a technical education as emergency medical services and go from there.”

Barnes said he spent a year working EMS in Jessamine County before becoming a volunteer with Clark County Fire Department in 1998. In the spring of 1999, he was hired as a full-time firefighter. Since then he worked his way through the ranks, most recently serving as fire marshal and training officer.

Barnes said he wants to maintain the department’s training and capabilities while looking for areas to expand.

“We already have a high level of service,” he said. “We don’t just do fires. We do a wide variety of technical rescue, trench rescue.”

Barnes said he would also like to implement a schedule for maintenance and replacement for the department’s facilities and equipment.

In other action Wednesday, the court:

— approved the second reading of an ordinance for a cost of living increase for county employees.

— approved the second reading of an ordinance to correct a property description in a zoning ordinance.

— approved the hiring of Susan Mullen as an administrative assistant in the judge-executive’s office.

— Approved the promotion of Christian Puckett from custodian to county maintenance worker.