Kimble named new fire chief

BUCKHANNON — You can scratch off the qualifier in front of his former title, “interim fire chief.”

As of Thursday night, it’s official: longtime Buckhannon firefighter-turned-captain J.B. Kimble is now the City of Buckhannon’s fire chief.

City council voted unanimously to approve hiring Kimble — who has logged 28 years in the fire service with the city —
after reviewing applications during a special meeting Tuesday evening in executive session.

Mayor David McCauley announced the decision at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, which nearly the entire Buckhannon Fire Department attended, in addition to Kimble’s family and retired city fire chief Mitch Tacy.

“I would tell you that two months ago when Jim Townsend announced his resignation, the city council immediately established time frames for a comprehensive search for a fire chief replacement,” McCauley said. “We left plenty of time and advertised in half a dozen different spots for people who were interested to apply.

“We received a number of outstanding, exemplary, qualified folks that we’ve been vetting for the past several days, and we had a meeting and then we adjourned into executive session to discuss the upcoming final processes to select our fire chief. I think the lightbulb collectively came on for all of us that there was really only one way of proceeding that would allow us to short circuit the process a bit.”

McCauley said selecting Kimble was a “no-brainer” for council.

“When J.B. Kimble filed his application, I think we were all immediately drawn to it and recognized what we would end up doing,” McCauley said, “and rather than go through additional processes that, frankly, would have been somewhat disingenuous to other applicants … we have decided that we wanted to take more immediate action on announcing our new fire chief.”

Councilman Robbie Skinner made a motion to hire J.B. Kimble as the city’s new fire chief, which was seconded by councilwoman Pam Cuppari before passing unanimously.

After a standing ovation welcomed Kimble, city recorder, Dr. Susan Aloi, administered the oath of office.

“I want to thank you all first for the opportunity to serve the city,” Kimble said after he was sworn in. “I’ve been here for a long time, and the foundation has been built through the years. Former chief Tacy has been part of that. These guys have been part of that. The fire department is not an ‘I’ team, we are a ‘we’ team. We’re a family. Then, I have my home family. They’re very supportive of me, and my wife knows that the fire department is very important to me and the people we serve. I’ll do the best I can to serve the City of Buckhannon.” 

Following his promotion, on Friday Kimble said his highest priority for the fire department is engaging in a risk assessment process throughout the community.

“It would involve an assessment of risks in our community so we can get the biggest bang for our buck in driving the department toward what’s best for our community,” Kimble said.

When asked about his favorite part of the job, Kimble said the multi-faceted nature of being a firefighter.

“If you’re in the fire service, you might be a fireman one day on top of a ladder truck, and the next day you might be in a boat,” he said. “Being a firefighter is the best job in the world because there’s so many things to do and learn and train on. There’s constantly something to learn; it’s an ongoing education with the job.”

Kimble said the fire department will now begin the process of hiring a new firefighter to replace him.

More In Local News