LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2016) — Kristin Chilton, a 23-year multigenerational veteran of the Lexington Fire Department, will be its next chief, Mayor Jim Gray announced today.
Chilton, now assistant chief, has worked her way up in the division through numerous assignments, giving her a broad range of experience.
“This is an important day for our city,” Gray said. “Public safety is a top priority for our citizens, and for me. Kristin Chilton has the experience and the vision to lead our firefighters, continuing and building upon their tradition of excellence.”
“It is an honor,” Chilton said, “to have this opportunity. I look forward to working with the mayor, the men and women of our department, and the community to find new ways to improve our services.”
Chilton first became interested in a career in firefighting in 1990 after visiting Station 1 on Third Street as part of a first-aid class at Transylvania University. At Station 1 she met Lisa Daley, Lexington’s first woman firefighter and a paramedic. “She encouraged me to apply. She is the reason I’m here,” Chilton said. “We know with our recruiting making that personal contact is so important, and that’s what she was for me. She showed me what was possible.”
Daley, now retired, was on hand to watch her protégé become chief, as were two others who were mentors to Chilton, Daryl Osborne, a retired battalion chief, and Wilbur White, retired captain.
Chilton will officially start work as chief immediately, taking over from Interim Chief Harold Hoskins. Hoskins, who was not interested in the permanent position, became interim chief in January after the retirement of Keith Jackson.
The search committee for the chief position was a diverse group of citizens from throughout the community, including representatives of the criminal justice community, business people, the Urban County Council, the faith community and community advocates. Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin chaired the committee; other members were Councilmember Jennifer Mossotti, Lexington NAACP President William Saunders, Baptist Health Lexington COO and CNO Karen Hill, Immanuel Baptist Church Pastor Ron Edmonson, Eastern Kentucky University School of Justice Studies Dean Dr. Victor Kappeler, Fraternal Order of Firefighters President Chris Bartley and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Glenn Brown.
Mossotti, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said, “The final group of candidates vying to become our new fire chief was exceptional. Assistant Chief Kristin Chilton has literally and figuratively climbed the ladder of success during her more than two decades of exemplary service with the department. She epitomizes the term ‘public servant’ and I am confident she will provide the strong leadership the position and the community demands, while serving as a remarkable role model for future firefighters – male and female.”
The committee opened up the process to all applicants, both internal and external. Thirty-two applications were received.
The mayor met with members of the committee to discuss their recommendation. He also talked to three finalists, Chilton, Assistant Chief Christopher Sweat and former state Fire Marshal William Swope.
Chilton holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Transylvania University and a master’s degree in public health from Eastern Kentucky University. She is certified as an emergency medical technician and a hazardous materials specialist.
She is a long-time member of the Kentucky Fire Commission and volunteers with several animal welfare agencies and the Girls Scouts.
Chilton and her husband, Richard Jordan, a retired assistant chief with the Lexington Fire Department, live on a small farm with their adopted daughter.