The City of Lenoir has hired Ken Hair to serve as the next Chief of the Lenoir Fire Department. Hair has served with the Lenoir Fire Department for 27 years, and has served as Deputy Chief since 2008. Hair officially will become Chief March 1, 2018.
Twenty seven years of service is a lot, but Hair has been working as a firefighter even longer. Hair grew up in Gamewell and attended West Caldwell High School. That’s where he joined the Student Fireman Program at the young age of 16 and served in the Gamewell Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD).
Hair said it was the excitement of the job that first drew him in.
“I was in high school, and there were other student firemen. They would get called out to fires, and it was very exciting,” Hair said. “Then I got involved in the Student Fireman Program and it became more interesting. I loved volunteering, so I decided to give firefighting a shot as a career, and here were are.”
While volunteering with GVFD, Hair rose through the ranks to Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief, and Assistant Chief. Hair stepped down in 2016, but still serves on the GVFD Board of Directors. Hair also rose through the ranks at the Lenoir Fire Department (LFD) serving as firefighter, second lieutenant, lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Chief, and Interim Fire Chief.
City Manager Scott Hildebran said that given his extensive experience and knowledge of the department, Hair was the perfect fit to be the new Chief.
“Ken has a long record of achievement, and is known throughout the organization as a great steward of departmental resources,” Hildebran said. “He displays honesty, integrity, and a high degree of professionalism, and he shares the fire service core value of a customer driven focus. I’m confident Ken will continue the service that has given the Lenoir Fire Department such an excellent reputation across the state.”
Hair has a lot to be proud of from his service so far to the citizens of Lenoir. He led the charge to get the City’s ISO rating lowered, which reduces insurances rates in Lenoir. He also helped get an $86,000 grant to install exhaust systems in Station 1 and 2, so Lenoir’s firefighters don’t have to breathe engine exhaust while trucks idle in the station before and after calls.
During his service, Hair has always worked to learn more and grow professionally. He earned an A.A.S. in Emergency Preparedness Technology and a B.S. in Organizational Leadership. He holds many fire specific certifications including Fire Officer Level III, Fire Instructor, Level II, Fire Investigator, Driver/Operator, Emergency Medical Technician, Firefighter Level II, Fire Inspector Level I, and Emergency Rescue Technician.
Hair also is one of only three people in Caldwell County (100 in North Carolina) to hold the designation of Chief Fire Officer. That designation is given by the Commission on Professional Credentialing from the Center for Public Safety Excellence, and has to be earned every three years.
Hair also was named the North Carolina Firemen of the Year in 2011.
As the new Chief, Hair said he plans to make sure the department and Lenoir’s firefighters continue to progress in training and work to provide ever better service to Lenoir’s residents and businesses. Hair also wants to expand career development incentives and market the great benefits the City offers to attract quality candidates to serve at LFD.
“Firefighting is a calling, and you have to invest in career development to get the most out of it,” Hair said.
Hair also looks forward to seeing Station 3 built and operational. Station 3, which is currently in design, will be located on Tremont Park Drive NE off Wilkesboro Boulevard. The new station will allow LFD to provide quicker response times to the eastern part of the City.
But most of all, Hair said he’s looking forward to serving as Chief of the Lenoir Fire Department.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to be the leader of this department,” Hair said. “It’s a great group of firefighters, and I want to make sure they’re taken care of. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.”
Hair enjoys golf and NASCAR; he and his wife Jennifer have been married 22 years.