DeKalb County Fire Chief Darnell Fullum has been named 2023 Fire Chief of the Year by the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, the group of the state’s chiefs with the goal of improving fire service Georgia residents.
“I share this honor with the brave and dedicated men and women of DeKalb County Fire Rescue who serve our residents every day,” Chief Fullum said. “It’s an honor to have been recognized by my peers across the state.”
Chief Fullum began as DeKalb’s fire chief in 2014. During his tenure, he’s made dramatic improvements to the fire department. Particularly, since 2017, Chief Fullum has:
• Championed better pay for DeKalb County Fire Rescue. In April 2023, after a series of pay raises over the past few years, the starting salary for new firefighter recruits became one of the highest among large local governments in the state.
• Used $2 million in SPLOST funding to design and develop a fleet of 10 new rapid response vehicles to alleviate some of the overuse of other larger fire trucks. This strategy has led to reductions in fuel consumption, less wear and tear on equipment, and, most importantly, reductions in crew fatigue that have resulted in improvements to morale.
• Led the efforts to allocate another $44 million to replace four existing fire stations, construct two new fire stations, and repair other stations.
• Upgraded the fire department’s radio communications system using $1.5 million in SPLOST funding.
• Oversaw efforts that increased DCFR’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating from a Class 3 department to a Class 2, resulting in lower insurance rates for residents countywide.
• Been a leader in DeKalb’s multiple large-scale efforts to provide vaccinations against COVID-19 and monthly efforts over the last three years to address pandemic-related food insecurities. DCFR has helped to administer approximately 15,000 vaccinations and distribute 130,000 boxes of food.
“The heart that Chief Fullum shows is that of a true servant leader,” said Robert Patrick, District 1 Commissioner and Commission President Officer. “He’s wisely used SPLOST funding to improve the department, raised pay and morale for firefighters, helped lower residents’ insurance rates in the process, and still found time to give back to the community. We’re so proud of him. We see why he was named top chief in Georgia.”
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond added, “Chief Fullum embodies the spirit of public service and servant leadership, and he has guided the transformation of DeKalb County Fire Rescue (DCFR) to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.”