Fred Cephas, the new fire chief of Gwinnett County, Georgia, spent 22 years with the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services before taking on his new role.
As the first Black person to hold this position in the department’s 52-year history, Cephas has a unique perspective on the fire service industry’s evolution over the last two decades.
Cephas’s time with the department started with a moment of doubt when he saw news reports of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. As a firefighter, he wondered if this was the career for him. He decided to stick with it and was recently promoted to fire chief.
Throughout his career, Cephas has worked in various areas of the department, including serving as a firefighter, paramedic, and licensed polygraphist. He has also been involved in strategic planning, accreditation management, and operations. Cephas became deputy fire chief in 2020, and after the retirement of his predecessor, he stepped up as the new chief on April 1.
During his time with the department, Cephas has witnessed the fire service industry’s shift from a heavy emphasis on firefighting to dual training as both firefighters and paramedics. As Gwinnett’s population continues to grow, Cephas believes the department must prepare for changing community needs. His focus as chief is on employee-focused and community-centered efforts, with a special emphasis on risk prevention through community education programs.
Cephas is not only the first Black person to hold this position in the department’s history, but he is also a role model for aspiring Black firefighters. As he takes on his new role, Cephas is excited to make Gwinnett County a safer and healthier place to live. His passion for the job and focus on the community ensures that the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services is in good hands.