Former city of Cartersvile Fire Chief Norris "Hoss" Westbrooks, 89, passed away Thursday. Comrades with the fire department say that they are saddened by the loss.
"Chief Westbrooks literally was a legend," said Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter. "The legacy he left behind is still being felt today."
Westbrooks led the department through a transitional phase for personnel when the hours of service changed from 24 hours on-shift and 24 hours off-shift to 24 hours on and 48 hours off. He also created the third shift for firefighters.
"He was a strong chief," said Battalion Chief Frank James, who has been with the department for 30 years and was hired by Westbrooks. "He never let you down. When you were at a fire, he was right there with you.
"He was a very good chief, a very good leader and a heck of a fireman."
Westbrooks was a veteran of World War II, having served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a shore patrol officer and as an instructor in hand-to-hand combat.
Known fondly as "Hoss," Westbrooks held the position of chief from 1967 to 1986. CFD Station 2, located at 90 Peeples Valley Road, was named in honor of Westbrooks in 2003 under Mayor Mike Fields and then Chief Otis Chupp.
"He blazed a path," Carter said. "I was fortunate to follow behind him. Our department is very saddened by the loss."
Per Carter's request, the flags outside CFD Station 1 in downtown Cartersville were set to half-staff Friday and will continue to fly in that position in honor of Westbrooks through this evening as "a time of reflection for his dedication and service to the citizens of our community, state and nation."
Funeral services for Westbrooks will be conducted today at 2 p.m. at Owen Funeral Home in Cartersville. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.