Change of Command at Kinston Fire Department
Chief Donald N. Crawford Jr. and Chief Damien Locklear. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News
The Kinston Department of Fire and Rescue welcomed its new chief Friday with a Change of Command Ceremony.
The event, which took place at Kinston Fire Station No. 1, allowed the department to honor its outgoing chief and provide a warm welcome to the new chief and his family. Chief Donald N. Crawford Jr. will officially retire on December 31, 2018 after thirty-two years of service to the city of Kinston.
Taking over on January 2 will be Chief Damien Locklear. Locklear comes to Kinston from the Cumberland Road Fire Department, with fourteen years of experience in fire service. Locklear told the department that he is excited by the opportunity he sees here in Kinston, and he is humbled by the responsibility he has to the public. “The public trusts firefighters to do the right thing at the worst time,” he said.
Locklear also said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of the people of Kinston. He and his wife visited downtown last weekend, and he said everyone he met was genuinely nice, welcoming, and friendly. He said his impression of Kinston is of a city that has a hometown feel.
Mayor Don Hardy said that finding Locklear was the result of a lengthy search, because of the importance of finding the right person for the job. He said he believes Locklear is the right person, and based on his training and experience, he is a good fit for the department. “He’s a great guy, very community oriented, and he knows how to do his job,” he said.
When he takes over on January 2, Locklear said he hopes to sit down with the department’s administrative staff, “and observe where the department is, and go from there.”
Retiring Chief Crawford said he looks forward to taking the month of January off to enjoy retirement and work on some projects around the house. Beginning in February, he will be working part time with the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Department. “I will miss the people I work with daily,” he said.
The Change of Command Ceremony featured the Kinston Department of Fire and Rescue Color Guard as well as bagpipes played by Administration Captain W.J. Barss. The two chiefs reviewed their personnel, and Chief Crawford passed the ceremonial speaking trumpet to Chief Locklear to symbolize the change of command. Those in attendance enjoyed a small reception with cake and refreshments after the ceremony.