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Fire Chief Craig Dye leaves big boots to fill

Editorial Board • Nov 28, 2017 at 1:00 PM

 Craig Dye leaves big boots — firemen’s boots — to fill from more than 34 years of service to the greater Kingsport community. The Kingsport Fire Department chief is taking retirement, rightly proud of his years of work in helping build one of the best fire departments in the state.

He led an organization of 116 men and women and during his tenure kept the focus on continual training to produce the best in firefighting, hazardous materials handling, and emergency medical and rescue. Because of that, Kingsport’s fire department enjoys an ISO rating of 3.

That rating is the major factor that homeowner and business insurance companies use to evaluate a fire department. It’s based on many factors including the number of personnel on duty, training level, and the amount and quality of equipment available.

The better the department, the better protected a structure is from fire damage and loss. And that translates into cheaper insurance.

Less than 4 percent of fire departments nationwide achieve that rating, and Kingsport is among them thanks to Craig Dye’s leadership and the outstanding management structure he has put in place here.

That’s dedication above and beyond the call, but Dye could do no less, because he’s from here, and because he rose through the ranks over decades to earn the title of chief.

Dye grew up in the Sevier Terrace neighborhood, went through the city school system and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1976. He worked at the Times-News for a couple of years, attended classes at the ETSU University Center, and at that time was trying to figure out what to do with his life.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do,” he told us. “I took classes to be in school and kept up with studies. I tried business management, but I wanted to do something that meant something to me and to people. I saw an ad in the paper for the fire department and put in an application. I never really thought about being a firefighter, but thought it sounded pretty good. I got a letter inviting me to take a written test at the Civic Auditorium, another letter to come for interviews and finally another letter saying the department decided they wanted me to come work.”

As City Manager Jeff Fleming describes him, Dye is a true Kingsport success story. During his watch, Kingsport built two new fire stations, invested $1.9 million into the countywide radio system, updated response protocols, built a new state-ofthe-art 911 center, and added a second active ladder truck to the department’s fleet.

“Chief Dye leaves a positive legacy that will be felt for years to come,” Fleming said, and we join his many friends, relatives and our firefighters in wishing him the very best of a well-deserved retirement.

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