"Fire Marshal Willard Preston blatantly lied about how much rum was, then was not, in the bottle utilized during the test burn experiment."
Motion for Post-Conviction Relief
State of Delaware vs Mark Kirk
March 2, 2007

State Fire Marshal Willard Preston resigns
By TERRI SANGINITI, The News Journal
Updated Friday, April 6, 2007 at 6:10 pm
State fire marshal abruptly resigns post

April 7, 2007


The News Journal

Delaware State Fire Marshal Willard F. Preston III resigned from his post Thursday during an executive session of the state Fire Prevention Commission, officials confirmed Friday.

Commission members said the sudden resignation came as a shock.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Grover P. Ingle has been appointed acting state fire marshal until a replacement can be found, officials said.

Fire Commissioner Willard Betts said the meeting was requested by Preston and was held in executive session reserved for personnel issues.

The session was not open to the public.

"We got his letter of resignation at the executive meeting," Betts said. "It kind of caught us off guard."

State Fire Prevention Commission Vice Chairman Marvin Sharp said Preston, who was appointed in 2001, resigned for personal reasons.

"It was a personal decision on his part," Sharp said. "We regretfully accepted his resignation."

Preston could not be reached for comment Friday.

Calls Friday to other members of the Fire Prevention Commission were not returned.

"He did an excellent job," Betts said. "He's a close personal friend to a lot of us. This came as a surprise."

Preston, 50, joined the state Fire Marshal's Office in November 1989 and rose to the position of Assistant Chief Deputy Fire Marshal in 1994, conducting fire investigations in New Castle County and serving as the agency's public information officer.

In July 2001, he was appointed state fire marshal, succeeding Daniel Kiley in the position in which he served for 10 years.

Preston, who started his fire career at age 16 with the Talleyville Fire Company, is a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators, National Association of State Fire Marshals and serves as a principal member of the National Fire Protection Association's Technical Committee on Fire Investigations.

During his tenure, Preston completed his law studies at Widener University School of Law, and is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court in Delaware and New Jersey.

"We will be going through the hiring process according to state personnel," Sharp said. "We're going to advertise for 30 days from the date of posting."

Preston's successor will be chosen from a pool of candidates from Delaware, Betts said.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the state Fire Commission is scheduled for April 24, according to the agency's Web site.

Contact Terri Sanginiti at 324-2771 or tsanginiti@delawareonline.com.