IAFC: What does it mean to you to be honored as 2016 Fire Chief of the Year?
Riggins: I think it’s such an honor first of all to be a member of such a distinguished organization, and I am so thrilled, honored and humbled all simultaneously. To be recognized by such an outstanding group of fire-service professionals is an honor I’ll forever treasure.
I have such a high regard and admiration for the IAFC and to be called the Career Fire Chief of the Year of the IAFC is certainly a highlight of my career! Thanks to the board and all of the members for bestowing on me this great honor.
IAFC: What is the one accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Riggins: I’m most proud of the fact that we, the men and women of the Macon Bibb County Fire Department, are regarded as one of the best community investments that Macon Bibb has made.
IAFC: What has the reaction been from your department and community about being named Fire Chief of the Year?
Riggins: It’s been great; I’ve been on a speaker’s circuit since I’ve been named. I have been asked do the honorary coin toss at opening night at our university football game. Our department has been asked to do flag ceremonies across the county, radio talk shows, interviews, etc.
IAFC: Who has been the most influential person inside or outside the fire service on your success? Why?
Riggins: My mother has been the most influential person on my life that I know; she herself was a great leader, very courageous, smart and very disciplined. She was very wise and had the best instincts for people and their character traits I ever saw.
IAFC: When was your most difficult time or challenge in the fire service and how did you overcome it?
Riggins: One of the most difficult times was the loss of Lt. Randy Parker, who was killed in a structure fire in 2015. He was trapped for nearly an hour, and to watch my firefighters and citizens do all they could to eradicate that situation was very daunting.
But then watching the same people, after such a horrifying event, hold onto their faith, courage and integrity—as well as each other—was a beautiful movie to watch. Lt. Parker was a gentleman and a scholar who left us a great message: “Nothing just happens, so let’s do this.”
So we did overcome it; I loved the togetherness that came out of such a tragedy.
IAFC: What advice would you offer new or emerging leaders in the fire service?
Riggins: Always stay focused on why we do this job in the first place. Never lose your passion for helping the people you serve—the customers within the department as well as the citizen customers. Customer first!
About Fire Chief of the Year
Selected by a committee appointed by the IAFC, two Fire Chief of the Year winners are honored each year for their leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity and contributions to the fire service as a whole.
The IAFC Fire Chief of the Year program would not be possible without the support of our program partner, Pierce Manufacturing Inc. The IAFC also thanks our award media partner, Praetorian Digital, publisher of FireRescue1.com and FireChief.com.
See the official announcement: Pierce Manufacturing, IAFC Honor 2017 Fire Chiefs of the Year.