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NCAFC Leadership Focus

NCAFC Members Sharing from Their Leadership Thoughts & Experiences

Chief Ken Briscoe

Retired Fire Chief

Lenoir Fire Department

Fire Service Experience


I started my career in 1973 at Hudson Vol. Fire Department. My first day as a paid firefighter was January 1st, 1975 at Lenoir Fire Department. I left Lenoir as a Captain for the NC Department of Insurance in 1984. I retired from the Department of Insurance in 2004, and was appointed Chief of Lenoir in June of 2004, retiring March 1st, 2018. During my career l was able to teach or direct the, NC State Fire College, NC Breathing Equipment School, NC Rescue College, NC Mountain Rescue School, NC Command and Control School.

I am an Adjunct Instructor for the National Fire Academy.  I have my National Chief Officer Designation and I hold the member grade with the Institution of Fire Engineers. In 2007, l was named Firefighter of the year by the NC State Firefighters Association, also in 2007, I was recognized by the Senate of North Carolina for outstanding service to the City of Lenoir and the State of NC. I have also been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the Governor of North Carolina, and recognized four times by the Congress of the United States of America for my contribution to the Fire Service 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2018. I have had the honor to serve as President and Past President twice of the NC Association of Fire Chiefs.

What would you consider the greatest leadership challenge you have faced and how were you able to overcome it?

Re-instilling confidence in a 62-member, paid Fire Department, after they had been involved in a political issue that shook the Department greatly. Allowing them to travel, interact, and discuss their issue with other City Firefighters and see they were not that different. Allowing the Firefighters to establish the direction, mission, vision and goals for the Fire Department.

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received and how were able to best apply it to your career?

Two things, surround yourself with great people and the second, be a servant leader, everyday as Fire Chief.

What advice would you share with future fire service leaders?

You are 5th, God is first, your family is second, the Department is third, your Citizens are fourth, and then you.

Personal Background

I am married to my wife Paula and have been for 39 years. We have one son Joe, who is married to his wife Kate and they have one daughter, Emory. We love to travel on the coast of NC and enjoy fishing and playing golf.

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