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Lexington Fire Chief to retire; first African American to hold position

Will retire on Jan. 9, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 30, 2015) — Lexington Fire Chief Keith Jackson, the first African American to lead Lexington’s firefighters, announced plans to retire on Jan. 9, 2016, Mayor Jim Gray said today. Harold Hoskins has been appointed interim chief, effective Jan. 10

Keith Jackson
Keith Jackson

“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,” Jackson said. “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.”

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.

Gray named Jackson Interim Chief in March 2011. He was appointed to the permanent position in June, 2012.

“He led by example, always walking the talk,” Gray said. “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.”

Gray said Jackson made major improvements in the division by 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.

Hoskins, a 33-year veteran of the force, currently serves as assistant chief of operations, overseeing Emergency Medical Services, Hazmat and Firefighting. In addition, he maintains the fleet. Hoskins is a native of Harlan County and he holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. Hoskins has said he is not interested in the permanent chief position.