New Charlotte Fire Chief hopes to calm the waters

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One day after being named Charlotte's newest Fire Chief, it was meet and greet time for Reginald Johnson.

He knows morale is a concern, but in his remarks to the rank and file, Johnson described himself as a servant leader.

"Morale is an issue in many fire departments. The ebb and flow of morale, but how you address that is through communication and transparency. That's my goal," Johnson said.

Diversity is another issue staring the new chief right in the face, and another task he faces in leading this department of more than 1,000 men and women is attracting minority job candidates and providing promotions.

"Diversity and hiring of minorities and women in general is not just a Charlotte Fire Department issue. It is a fire service industry issue. There's a lot of departments that have the same issue," Johnson said.

The decision to hire Reginald Johnson was made by city manager Marcus Jones who says the new chief is inheriting a well-run department, despite having its share of internal tensions.

"He's inheriting an excellent fire department," Jones told reporters. "People understand that this is a class act. It's a well-run fire department."

He takes over at a groundbreaking time in our city's life that Charlotte has its first African-American female mayor and that other decision makers have broken the color barrier including the city manager, police chief, district attorney, county commission chair and school board chair.

"It is wonderful to have your government regardless of the agency to reflect your community. That should be the goal," Johnson said.

Considering that he has 42 firehouses under his watch, the new chief has a lot of ground to cover over the next few weeks.

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