By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 10/3/19
HARRISONBURG — Harrisonburg Fire Chief Ian Bennett was named acting director of the Harrisonburg- Rockingham Emergency Communications Center after former Director Jim Junkins was transferred to a new position, according to city staff.
Junkins will focus on serving the technology department, working with radio and computer systems, according to Rockingham County Administrator Stephen King.
The HRECC is a multijurisdictional agency that is funded equally by Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. It was established in 2005 and serves 40 agencies, ranging from law enforcement to fire and rescue.
King said the decision to transfer Junkins was made by King, Harrisonburg City Manager Eric Campbell and Junkins. King and Campbell serve as board members for HRECC.
Mike Parks, director of communications for Harrisonburg, said Wednesday Junkins is still a “vital part of the team,” noting Junkins’ background with technology.
Junkins will continue to serve the HRECC as the “assistant to the director of the ECC, which at this time is Chief Bennett in an interim capacity. Jim will be focused on technology,” said Parks in an email.
Prior to coming to the HRECC in 1992, he worked as an RF communications applications engineer in the cable television industry for nine years, specializing in radio frequency leakage detection systems, according to the Virginia Chapter of the Association of Public- Safety Communications Officials.
With Junkins moving away from the operations side of HRECC, Bennett will serve as acting director until the position can be filled permanently, while also continuing his role as the city’s fire chief.
Bennett began his firefighting career in Harrisonburg in 1987 after earning a political science degree from James Madison University. He left to become a firefighter with the Virginia Air National Guard Fire and Rescue in 1991, where he climbed the ranks to lieutenant.
Four years later, he left to become a deputy chief in Auburn, Alabama. In 1996, he returned to the National Guard as a deputy chief.
In 2003, he became a battalion chief in Castle Rock, Colorado, before returning to the Shenandoah Valley. In 2005, he was hired as a deputy chief with Rockingham County Fire and Rescue and took the same position with HFD in 2008.
Bennett was hired by former city Chief Larry Shifflett, who retired in 2016 after 47 years as a firefighter, including 33 years as chief.