O’brien named county fire chief

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

In­terim fire chief Kevin O’Brien has been ap­pointed as the new per­ma­nent fire chief for New­ton County Fire Ser­vice.

County man­ager John Mid­dle­ton made the an­nounce­ment that O’Brien would take on the po­si­tion at the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing on Tues­day night.

Mid­dle­ton said O’Brien has been serv­ing as in­ter- im fire chief for NCFS since May. Chief Mike Sat­ter­field, who pre­vi­ously served as the fire chief for NCFS, an­nounced his re­tire­ment in late April and of­fi­cially re­tired from NCFS in June.

O’Brien started with fire ser­vices in 1993 as a vol­un­teer for the Salem Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment. He worked for the DeKalb County Fire De­part­ment as a fire­fighter and rose through the ranks to a bat­tal­ion chief and a train­ing di­rec­tor. He then be­gan work­ing with

NCFS in Septem­ber 2007.

He holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Ge­or­gia South­ern Univer­sity and is cur­rently work­ing on his master’s in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion. In Oc­to­ber, he fin­ished a four-year cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process as an ex­ec­u­tive fire of­fi­cer through the Na­tional Fire Academy.

O’Brien talked about his tran­si­tion into his new role and said it’s been pretty easy be­ing that he had train­ing and guid­ance prior to Sat­ter­field re­tir­ing.

“For the last year and a half or so, Chief Sat­ter­field, prior to his re­tire­ment, had sort of kind of al­ready turn over the reign of the de­part­ment to me on a day to day op­er­a­tions and let me run ev­ery­thing,” O’Brien said. “It was nice to have some­one to pro­vide me some backup and sup­port.”

“The elected of­fi­cials and the county man­ager have been great in their sup­port of the fire de­part­ment in try­ing to get us back to where we were and mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” he said.

Mid­dle­ton said O’Brien holds mul­ti­ple cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and has al­ready set goals as the new fire chief for the county. O’Brien ex­plained some of those goals for the de­part­ment.

“Two of my big­gest things are com­mu­nity outreach and ed­u­ca­tion about who we are and what ser­vices New­ton County Fire De­part­ment pro­vides,” he said.

“I want to work on our train­ing pro­gram for the ca­reer side on the of­fi­cer devel­op­ment and just the gen­eral devel­op­ment of our fire­fight­ers from the rank of fire­fighter to en­gi­neer to of­fi­cer; but mostly fo­cus­ing on the of­fi­cer devel­op­ment side be­cause we have a very young group of of­fi­cers,” O’Brien said.

“And also to en­hance and im­prove the train­ing pro­grams for the vol­un­teers. Putting some, what I call cre­den­tial­ing pro­grams, in place for them, where they have set ob­jects that they must meet to be qual­i­fied to op­er­ate as fire­fight­ers within our sys­tem.”

“This is so they’re just not kind of walking in the door and do­ing what they want to do, but cre­den­tial­ing them to a state stan­dard and es­tab­lish­ing a bet­ter success rate for what they want to do.”

“And then of course man­ag­ing a dif­fer­ent bud­get than we have dealt with be­fore. That’s a mon­ster in ev­ery­body’s face,” O’Brien said.

Mid­dle­ton pre­vi­ously said the board be­lieves O’Brien will carry on some of the same goals as the pre­vi­ous chief.

“I think that over­all, the board was very pleased with the di­rec­tion and the progress that the New­ton County Fire Ser­vice made un­der Chief Sat­ter­field and we cer­tainly look to Chief O’Brien to pro­vide that op­er­a­tional con­ti­nu­ity and build on that foun­da­tion,” Mid­dle­ton said.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate his ac­cep­tance of this role.”

Danielle Ever­son /The Cov­ing­ton News

Kevin O’Brien has served as in­terim fire chief for NCFS since May.

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