Scott Williamson hails from Weiser, Idaho

Burns’ new fire chief had been on the job for seven days when the fire departments were called to the Parish Hall fire. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

The City of Burns has a new fire chief.

After serving as fire chief for Weiser, Idaho, for the past six years, Scott Williamson accepted the position in Burns and began work the first week of November.

In his new position, Williamson was forced into action almost immediately. Just seven days after he had started, the call came in that the Parish Hall at the Holy Family Catholic Church was ablaze.

“The Burns and Hines departments did a fantastic job responding to that fire,” Williamson said.

Williamson stated that he and Hines Fire Chief Bob Spence arrived on the scene at about the same time. “I did a quick check of the situation and knew we had to save the church,” Williamson said. “The hall was already pretty much gone.”

Williamson explained that the Hines Fire Department went to the northeast side of the hall to keep the fire from spreading to the church, while the Burns firefighters moved to the west side to fight the flames in the hall.

“We had from 15 to 18 firemen on the scene, and a fire like that in Weiser would have drawn maybe five or six whole departments,” Williamson said. “These guys did a fantastic job. Both departments are highly trained, and the community can be proud of both of their departments.”


Williamson spent his childhood in Weiser until he was in junior high. His father then accepted a job in Estacada and moved the family there.

After graduating in 1984, Williamson worked in the logging industry, including doing custom logging for Publishers Paper Co.

While logging, he began to get into the fire protection side of the industry and joined the Estacada Fire Department in 1986.

Two years later, he moved back to Weiser and signed on with the New Plymouth, Idaho Fire Department where he eventually became the training officer.

In 1998, he joined the Weiser Fire Department. He served as captain and training officer for them until six years ago when he was named fire chief.

Williamson said making the move to Burns wasn’t a real tough decision because he and his wife, Amber (Ware), who graduated from Burns High School, had already been talking about moving out of Weiser and when the job opened in Burns, he applied for it.

Amber is currently working on getting her EMT license switched over from Idaho to Oregon and hopes to find work with Harney EMS.

New duty

Williamson said his first weeks as Burns Fire Chief have been pretty enjoyable. “The community has been very supportive of me and my wife, and the two fire departments are a great bunch of guys,” he said.

As far as any changes, Williamson said he’s, “not here to re-invent the wheel. I’ll do an evaluation and go from there. But I’m not going to just sit behind a desk. As I told them in the interview, I’m a hands-on guy.”

There are currently about 14 volunteers on the Burns Fire Department and Williamson stated he would like to see that number grow to between 20 and 25. Applications are available at city hall. He is also planning to continue with the youth program.

Williamson said he always had an interest in fire service and after serving in Estacada, he fell in love with the work. “I like giving back to my community, he said. “And the guys here, it’s like family.”

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