Q&A with the 2017 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year: Chief Brian Wade

Brian Wade is the chief of the North Lenoir (N.C.) Fire & Rescue Department. He was honored during Fire-Rescue International in Charlotte as the 2017 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year. Here’s what he told On Scene about the path to this high honor.

IAFC: What does it mean to you to be honored as 2017 Fire Chief of the Year?

Wade: Receiving the news that I had been selected was very exciting and a little intimidating. I have just been accepted into what I consider to be a truly elite group. I was able to meet and network with some of the best fire chiefs and fire-service leaders in the nation. This has truly been a humbling experience and one I’ll cherish for the rest of my days. I was extremely impressed with the professionalism I witnessed and it’s certainly my honor to be a part of this group.

IAFC: What has the reaction been from your department and community about being named Fire Chief of the Year?

Wade: I feel like I have always had great support from my family and my community. I was truly overwhelmed with the response from my community once the announcement was made. I received many calls and supporting comments on social media. I genuinely appreciate all of the support my community and my department has given me over the years and throughout this process. However, I appreciate even more the opportunities I’ve been given and the support they continue to show. Together we can make a difference.

IAFC: Who has been the most influential person inside or outside the fire service on your success? Why?

Wade: My father Aaron Hardy Wade Jr., known to many by his nickname “Broom.” I followed his footsteps, which led me straight to the firehouse. He always set a great example for me to follow. I grew up watching him as he served our community, led others, lived as a respectable man and still made time to make me feel important. I hope to be half the man he was.

IAFC: What advice would you offer new or emerging leaders in the fire service?

Wade: The fire service is always changing. Move with it; don’t get left behind. Our communities expect the best from us, and this is what we’re constantly training and preparing for. Go out and make a difference in your community and department. I don’t know that there is any better feeling than knowing that you have helped someone. Whether it be assisting a new firefighter in recruit school, working with a junior officer to prepare for a promotional process or doing work on the fireground. In each of these you have made a difference. Make your time here in our fire service count; be the difference.

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.

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