LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Fire Chief Keith Jackson, the first African American to lead Lexington’s firefighters, has announced his plan to retire Jan. 9, Mayor Jim Gray said today.
Gray, who appointed Jackson Chief in 2012, said he will be missed. “Keith has been a strong partner in our work to strengthen our firefighting force. He leaves behind a Division that is fully staffed and fully equipped.”
Jackson said, “It has truly been a blessing to lead the exceptional men and women of the Division of Fire and Emergency Services for the last five years. I am proud to say that during that time we have improved the quality of service we provide to citizens and increased the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. As I leave the helm as Chief, I am proud to leave a legacy of: strong leadership, fiscal responsibility and putting people first.”
Gray appointed Harold Hoskins interim chief, effective Jan. 10. A 33-year veteran of the force, Hoskins currently serves as Assistant Chief of Operations, overseeing Emergency Medical Services, Hazmat and Firefighting. In addition, he maintains the fleet. “He is well positioned to offer advice as we put together our budget for next year,” Gray said. Hoskins is a native of Harlan County and he holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University.
“I am honored that Mayor Gray has placed his confidence in me to lead the Division of Fire and Emergency Services,” said Hoskins, who has said he is not interested in the permanent chief position. “It has been my privilege to serve this great organization for more than 30 years in a variety of roles, and I look forward to both the challenges and the responsibilities of leading the fire department as Interim Chief; and continuing the tradition of service that we have established over the years.”
Over a 25-year career, Jackson worked his way up the ladder, serving as firefighter, paramedic and, when he was a major, supervising the hazardous materials team. “He led by example, always walking the talk,” Gray said. Jackson made major improvements in the Division, reducing overtime costs; improving morale; improving the organizational structure with daily reports and quarterly meetings with the executive and command staff; instituting a leadership development program; and increasing the size of the force to meet the needs of a growing population.
Gray named Jackson Interim Chief in March 2011. He was appointed to the permanent position in June, 2012.