His fire/rescue career has spanned 51 years, with 33 as a fire chief, including seven in Sandy Springs.
“I have been blessed to work around some great mentors and friends in the fire/rescue service and have accomplished far more than I could have ever imagined, but it is time for me to take it a little easier, enjoying more time with family,” said McElfish, who has a wife, Joyce, and a daughter, Kelly.
Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough added, “Jack did a tremendous job for the city in creating and developing Sandy Springs Fire Rescue as a nationally recognized fire department. We are going to miss him,”
McElfish, 69, began his career in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a crash rescue firefighter. He rose through the ranks, later serving as a fire chief with five municipalities including Gwinnett and Clayton counties, Richmond, Va., and Wallingford, Conn., before coming to Sandy Springs.
The city hired McElfish in July 2006 and tasked him with creating a full-service fire and rescue department that was to be operational by Jan. 1, 2007. The fire department became fully operational Dec. 29, 2006. Before that date, the Fulton County Fire Rescue Department serviced the Sandy Springs after its incorporation in November 2005.
Throughout the past seven years, the city’s department has received numerous awards including the Crown Community award by the American City and County magazine in recognition of the startup and the department’s innovative emergency medical services program, and for its Heart Safe program. The department also received the Heart Save Community award presented by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
McElfish has been presented with many personal honors: the 2011 Mission award from the American Heart Association, the 2010 Alan Brunacini Fire Service executive safety award from the International Association of Fire Chiefs and fire chief of the year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 from three different organizations. He was also one of the country’s first to receive the designation of chief fire officer from the Commission of Professional Credentialing.
“I will definitely miss everyone, especially those super people in the fire/rescue department. They work so hard for this city,” McElfish said.
He said he notified the city of his intentions to retire to provide it with time for a smooth transition. The city plans to conduct a national search to fill the role.