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Posted on: November 2, 2021

Brandon Ellis named Gainesville fire chief’s successor

Brandon Ellis headshot

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (Nov. 2, 2021) – The City of Gainesville has decided who will fill the shoes of Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough upon his retirement Dec. 31.

Gainesville Fire Capt. Brandon Ellis, of Clermont, will assume the role of chief Jan. 1, 2022. Ellis was one of several candidates interviewed during a weeks-long internal search by Yarbrough and City management.

“During this process of transition, Brandon presented a clear vision and strategic plan to lead the Gainesville Fire Department (GFD) into the next decade, building upon what Chief Yarbrough has built,” said Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey. “Brandon understands the challenge of following Chief Yarbrough and clearly conveyed his plan of how to engage community leaders to build relationships and continue the sense of trust the community has in GFD. Additionally, he has demonstrated a readiness to present his strategic plan to the men and women of GFD to cultivate their buy-in to his and the City’s vision. I am excited about the future of GFD.”

Ellis, who has 20 years of experience in public safety, has served in his present role since June 2004. Prior to his career with the City, Ellis served as a firefighter for Hall County Fire Services from September 2001-June 2004.

“This community has grown vastly over my lifetime with one constant – the service that the Gainesville Fire Department has provided,” Ellis said. “Stepping into this exciting new chapter, I want to highlight the reasons why we serve: family, friends and community.”

“Excited and eager” for the challenges that come with the leadership position, Ellis said he’s mostly looking forward to the new possibilities awaiting GFD personnel as the department moves forward.

“Filling the role of fire chief holds both challenges and unknowns, but so does every new adventure,” Ellis said. “I'm excited to serve the men and women of this exceptional department and eager to see where our journey will lead.”

While Mayor Danny Dunagan voiced sadness over Yarbrough’s departure, he expressed confidence in the City’s ability to replace him with a strong, capable and motivated leader who puts Gainesville and its people first.

“We look forward to seeing Capt. Ellis build upon the solid foundation laid by Chief Yarbrough during his nearly four decades with the City,” Dunagan said. “Through the years, GFD has maintained an ISO Rating of 1, a well-trained staff, plus world-class equipment and facilities. Chief Yarbrough has set Capt. Ellis up for success in more ways than one, and I’m excited to see him make the department his own while also taking it to new heights.”

A September 2020 graduate of Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Ala., Ellis has an associate of science in fire science. Ellis also graduated from Lanier Technical College in December 2001 where he gained the education and training required to become an emergency medical technician.

Starting this week, Ellis will begin shadowing Chief Yarbrough through the end of the year.

Chief Yarbrough has served the City 37 faithful years in different capacities with GFD, leaving behind a legacy of devoted public service. Having started as a firefighter in 1984, he worked his way up to become the first African-American chief in Gainesville’s 200-year history.

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