Politics & Government

Charlotte hires new fire chief from suburban D.C. to bring stability to department

Reginald Johnson
Reginald Johnson

The city of Charlotte has hired Reginald Johnson from Fairfax County, Va., to be its new fire chief, according to City Council member Julie Eiselt, who chairs the public safety committee.

Last summer, former chief Jon Hannan retired under pressure from City Manager Marcus Jones. Before Hannan retired, the city had lost a whistleblower lawsuit against the Fire Department, which ultimately cost taxpayers $1.14 million.

Hannan had been with the fire department for 38 years, including 10 as fire chief.

Johnson is the assistant chief at Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. He will become the city’s first permanent African-American fire chief. Since Hannan’s retirement, Pete Key has been in the position on an interim basis. Key is also African-American.

The department has been divided over controversies such as the Crystal Eschert whistleblower case, as well as questions over spending at a new fire department headquarters north of uptown. The Charlotte Firefighters Association had lobbied the city for a change in leadership, though Hannan also had numerous supporters in the department.

Johnson is the assistant fire chief for operations in Fairfax, where he oversees more than 1,300 uniformed officers, according to the city. He has been in a leadership roles with that department for six years.

In a statement, Jones said Johnson is an “an excellent communicator with a talent for relationship building.” Johnson will start April 30.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs