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Fire chief, Ekaitis, steps down due to health concerns

By Daniel Evans and Shiann Sivell

Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis announced his resignation from the Troup County Fire Department on Tuesday.

Ekaitis, who will remain fire chief until Oct. 1, cited serious medical issues and a high level of activity involved with his work as reasons to step down.

“My resignation is the result of health complications that will require me to completely focus on my medical journey,” Ekaitis said in a press release.

“Therefore, I will not be able to continue to meet the expectations and demands of the fire chief position as I would like to.”

Ekaitis’ said his decision to step down from his position is not related to the recent investigation ongoing in the Troup County Fire Department or a whistleblower lawsuit that came from the investigation. County Manager Eric Mosley also said Ekaitis’ resignation is not related.

“We are extremely saddened that he is stepping down, but we understand that he needs to focus on what is important to him and his health,” Mosley asid. 

Ekaitis has served as the Troup County Fire Chief since July 2019 and has more than 31 years of professional experience in fire and emergency services.

Mosley offered praise to Ekaitis on the work he accomplished during his two years with the county.

“In my opinion, he has made a lot of great improvements to the Troup County Fire Department, including [adding] new equipment, more diversity within our personnel [and] a better training environment,” Mosley said.  “We’re very proud of the work he has accomplished.”

Commission Chairman Patrick Crews also voiced his concerns for Ekaitis and the process of finding the right person to take his place.

“I know he is going through some medical issues, and we all certainly want to keep him in our thoughts and prayers as he goes through that,” Crews said.

“As a county, we will be looking at the process of how to select the next fire chief. I do believe we have some very qualified people at this time. I don’t plan for us to be in a rush. We need to go through the right process and pick the right person for that job.”

During the next few months, Michael Strickland, deputy chief of the Troup County Fire Department, will continue to work beside Ekaitis, as he has done for the last six months, to assist in the department’s day-to-day operations, Mosley said.

“Over the next 60 days [Ekatis] will be working on wrapping up some special projects,” Mosley said.

“At that point, after he officially resigns, we will be beginning the process [of selecting a new chief].”