Kannapolis picks Hiers for its new fire chief

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report

KANNAPOLIS — The city of Kannapolis has hired Ernie Hiers as its new fire chief.

Hiers is the current chief for Temple Terrace Fire Department in Temple Terrace, Fla. He will take over the Kannapolis job Jan. 31.

“Ernie Hiers is a great fit for the City of Kannapolis,” Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said in a press release. “He has demonstrated many skills during his time in Temple Terrace, including maintaining a 99 percent citizen satisfaction rating, leading that department to fire accreditation status and working in a municipality dealing with growth in ways that are similar to Kannapolis.”

Legg also liked Hiers’ experience working next door to Tampa, given Kannapolis’s close proximity to Charlotte.

Hiers has 25 years of experience in municipal government, including 12 as fire chief and seven years as assistant fire chief.

In Temple Terrace, Hiers has been a member of the state of Florida training task force committee, chairman of the Temple Terrace annexation team, chairman of the local emergency planning committee and a member of the county’s emergency services task force.

“Working as fire chief for Kannapolis will be a great privilege,” Hiers said in a statement. “The potential for this city is enormous, and I look forward to the challenge.”

Hiers was selected after an extensive search process and interviews with more than 60 candidates.

He holds a master’s degree in public administration from City University in Bellevue, Wash., and a bachelor’s degree in fire and safety engineering technology from the University of Cincinnati.

Hiers replaces retired Fire Chief Larry Phillips. Assistant Chief Danny Scott retired with Phillips last month.

Legg appointed Division Chief Scott Linebarger of Granite Quarry as interim chief until Hiers’ arrival. Linebarger, who joined the Kannapolis department in 1998, is a former member of the Salisbury Fire Department.

Phillips had been Kannapolis’ only previous fire chief. He was the hired in 1987 and was the city’s first full-time fire employee. Scott became the department’s second full-time employee in 1989.

Now the department has 57 full-time staff, 40 volunteers and 16 part-time personnel.

Hiers will name an assistant chief after his arrival.