Fire Marshal, Walter "Walt" Smittle, III, of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office.
Charleston, W.Va.— August 25, 2022, marked a sad day in West Virginia with the passing of Walter (Walt) Smittle, III, who served as a Fire Marshal for 26 years. After a long life of service to the State of West Virginia and its citizens, Walt's legacy will live on through the lives and careers of those he mentored through his lifetime.
Jason Baltic, Chief Investigator for the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office (WVSFMO), says Walt was a contributing factor in his choice to become a Fire Marshal.
"He was one of the reasons I wanted to be a State Fire Marshal," says Baltic. "Once I turned 18, I told him I wanted to work at the Fire Marshal's Office." Although Walt had already retired by the time Chief Baltic became a fire marshal in 2004, Walt's service and leadership left a lasting impression on Chief Baltic, and on the Fire Marshal's Office as a whole.
Chief Investigator, Jason Baltic with the West Virginia Fire Marshal's Office
Chief Baltic knew Walt his entire life, and looked up to Walt as he worked up the ranks to become Chief Investigator in 2015. Chief Baltic's kindness and compassion during times of emergency have been recognized by many as he continues Walt's legacy with the Fire Marshal's Office.
In February of 2022, the administration Building at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind, located in Romney, West Virginia, was destroyed by a fire. While the community was mourning the loss of the historic structure, Chief Baltic went above and beyond to bring resolution to the devastating loss. Stephanie Abraham, legal counsel for the West Virginia Board of Education, expressed great appreciation to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office for their quick response and dedication of resources.
"Within the hour, the State Fire Marshal's Office was on campus to assist with the emergency response effort," states Abraham. "State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree dedicated the resources needed to help, and among those on the ground was [Chief Investigator], Jason Baltic."
Chief Baltic's position and expertise allowed the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education, and other investigators to join together to provide support to the community. Chief Baltic's compassion and experience contributed to the quick and effective response in Romney.
"No one is ever prepared for a large scale crisis," says Abraham. "However, the team around you makes the difference, and Jason was certainly a difference-maker for all of us."
Although Walt's death leaves an absence on the team of the State Fire Marshal, his legacy of service will continue to live on through those who learned from him.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21 2022
Contact: Morgan M. Switzer
Deputy General Counsel/Communications Coordinator
Morgan.M.Switzer@wv.gov, (304) 389-9043