NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- New Kent Fire Chief Rick Opett won the Governor’s Fire Services Award for Virginia Fire Chief of the Year.
“I did a lot of research before making the leap to serve as Fire Chief. What I noticed were great people that wanted to provide the best service possible, but were struggling with the staffing levels and equipment to keep up with the demand," Chief Opett said. "I have always sort of labeled myself as a problem solver and I wanted to help grow this department.”
The 30-year firefighting veteran became New Kent's chief in 2013.
In that time, the department has become fully staffed 24-hours-a-day and decreased response times by 15 minutes.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today, or even receiving this award, if it weren’t for the men and women of NKFR and our county leadership. They’ve worked just as hard and with me to build this department to provide better customer service for our residents and visitors," he said.