NCAFC Leadership Focus
NCAFC Members Sharing from Their Leadership Thoughts & Experiences
Clemmons Fire Department
Fire Service Experience
I joined the The Clemmons Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. in 1971 upon my return from military service when my wife and I bought a home in the Clemmons Community. The department was a small community fire department, providing fire protection to a bedroom community with rural farmland covering approximately 64 square miles. During the next 8 years I accomplished what I call my basic "fireman skills", by participating in a monthly meeting at the department, led by a fire service instructor from Forsyth Community College, and from NCDOI, fire/rescue division instructor Phil Riley. They conducted many live burn trainings for the rural fire departments in Forsyth County, in the City of Winston-Salem, in areas of revitalization. During that time, for the training we use to say the City burned in the daytime and the County burned in the nighttime. Over the next 8 years at the department, I advanced through the ranks to Lieutenant, Captain, and in 1979 was appointed Chief of Department by the Board of Directors and have served in that position as the Volunteer Chief and the paid Chief for 38 years. I have truly been blessed to serve this community the past 46 years.
What would you consider the greatest leadership challenge you have faced and how were you able to overcome it?
Our fire service community has gone from that bedroom community of 64 square miles and 7,000 residents, to a community of 29 square miles, due to forced annexation in the 90's, with a population of 30,000 residents and 1,130 occupied commercial businesses. We are ranked in the top 15 of median income communities in the state, which has more or less weaken our ability to obtain and maintain volunteer firefighters. I do not know if we can overcome this situation completely, but with a cadet program in the place of a Scouting Explorer program, progress is being made. This has taken my patience to the limits some days, but has reflected some light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the best leadership advice you have ever received and how were able to best apply it to your career?
Even though I lean a little toward the "Old School" teachings, always look forward with an open mind to others and never lose site that we are, and always will be a service-driven business for all people. Get up each day and know that day has been created by the Lord and let us rejoice and be glad in it that we all have been chosen to do what we do.
What advice would you share with future fire service leaders?
Always hold tightly to the fact we are all firefighters that serve the needs of all people, at a moment's notice, without hesitation to any and all problems, and we work, share, and give guidance to the very best brothers and sisters in the world. Never let faith, trust, and service ever fade away from our profession.
What else would you like to share that we may have not asked?
We all have come a long way forward in the last 129 years of our two Associations, Firefighters and Chiefs, and do not let us sit back on our laurels, but always move forward with the best in mind for all of us and the service we provide to all, in our Great State and Nation. Never forget that WE are ALL Americans.
Life long resident of Forsyth County, educated in County School system, High Point College, Institute of Government at UNC, National Fire Academy, and the Emergency Management Institute. Married to wife, Karen Masten 49 years, daughter Shannon Brooks Casey, grandson Austin Brooks Casey, now a fire cadet at Clemmons FD, granddaughter Meredith Lynn Casey, the softball player, veteran U.S. Army, Past President Forsyth County Firefighter and Chiefs Associations and Officer of the Year 2014, Past President Piedmont Firefighters Association and Chief of the Year 2015, and Past President of the N.C. State Firemen's Association 1989-1990. Like to play golf and ride my John Deere, and have had the privilege to be an escort on the World War II Veterans Flight of Honor.