Tifton native Ben Tapley, who grew up in Screven County, has a lengthy history in public safety and brings a wealth of experience to Bulloch County as its new fire chief. After serving as interim chief since April, Tapley was named chief Oct. 27.
Tapley started with the Sylvania Fire Department as a volunteer in 1992, then joined the Statesboro Fire Department as a full-time firefighter in 1993. He worked in that capacity until 2000.
In 1995, Tapley decided he wanted to expand his knowledge to another aspect of public safety and entered Emergency Medical Technician school. He then enrolled in paramedic school in 1999.
Tapley joined Bulloch County EMS full time while still working part time for the Statesboro Fire Department, he said. Apparently, that wasn’t enough, because in the early 2000s, he volunteered with the Bulloch County Fire Department and helped out the Brooklet Fire Department.
Tapley left Bulloch County EMS in 2010 and worked with Bryan County EMS until October 2012, when he became the Bulloch County Fire training officer.
“I left there in 2013 to become the Screven County fire chief and EMS director,” he said. “I returned to the Bulloch County Fire Department as training officer in 2019.”
When former Bulloch County Fire Chief Christopher Ivey stepped down to take a fire inspection position, Tapley was named interim fire chief in April of this year. In late October, the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners announced Tapley as the new Bulloch County fire chief.
“(Tapley’s) education, training, experience, and his love for the fire service and Bulloch County have qualified him to assume the role of fire chief,” said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
Tapley knows the challenges that face him. As chief, “I hope to match the growth (the county is experiencing), but we are 15–20 years behind.”
The county needs more infrastructure, more personnel and more equipment, he said.
“We are going to have to try and find the money for that. We also need to get more volunteers added to our ranks,” he said.
Tapley is married to wife Amber, a Southeast Bulloch Middle School teacher, and together they have seven children, ranging in age from 9 to 25.
He said he enjoys spending time doing activities with his family, and “I like to play a little golf when I have the time and money.”
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 243-7815.