Acting Combined Fire and Rescue System Chief Keith Johnson is making his new posting permanent.
Johnson has served in Loudoun since 2014 when he joined as assistant chief of operations, shortly after the county reorganized its independent volunteer fire and rescue organizations and its career staff to form one of the largest combined fire and rescue systems in the state. He has been serving as acting chief since the retirement of longtime chief W. Keith Brower Jr. in February.
Johnson said he would like to follow in the steps of his predecessor in making “a world-class combined system.”
“To me, it’s what Chief Brower always told me: it’s about service to the citizens.” He said with that focus, “All the other nonsense that you have to deal with through the day, it’s all secondary to providing world-class service.”
Johnson is a fourth-generation firefighter, who began his career in 1982 as a volunteer in New York state. In 1983, he graduated from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Training Academy and served in the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department for 30 years, including as deputy chief. Johnson was also a member of the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team and is the former Fairfax County Task Force Leader of the National Medical Response Team.
And as chief, he said he wants to maintain Loudoun’s history of volunteer service.
“I think that’s important,” Johnson said. “They have a rich history here in Loudoun, we have to not forget that. I started out as a volunteer, so I don’t forget where I came from ever.”
Moving forward, he said he would also like to continue in Brower’s statewide leadership working to improve fire and building codes.
As Loudoun’s assistant chief of operations, Johnson was primarily responsible for the oversight and management of fire, rescue, EMS and special operations, and worked closely with career and volunteer personnel.
Johnson was selected to be system chief from among a pool of candidates from a national recruitment effort. As system chief, he helms an organization of nearly 700 full-time employees and about 900 administrative and operational volunteer personnel.
“As Assistant Chief, Keith has played a key role in the success of our combined system and I am confident he will do an excellent job as the new Chief,” said County Administrator Tim Hemstreet in a press release announcing the hire.
In addition to a number of professional certifications, Johnson holds an associate’s degree in fire science administration from Northern Virginia Community College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, from the University of Maryland University College, and a master’s degree in security studies, homeland security, and defense from the Naval Postgraduate School. Johnson also serves as vice president on the board of directors of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association.