Retiring after years together, fire chief, assistant, have a long history of service to Kannapolis community

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Joanie Morris

Kannapolis Citizen

It was an afternoon of hugs, tears and punch as Kannapolis said farewell to two staples of the fire community. Fire Chief Larry Phillips and his assistant chief, Danny Scott, are retiring.

Cathy Coble spent two years working with the men as the first secretary of the Kannapolis Fire Department in 1997, when the original staff was hired for the department.

“I just really enjoyed working with them,” said Coble, who traveled with her husband, Sydney, from Tennessee to see the two men. “They were wonderful to work for.”

Phillips was hired by the city of Kannapolis in 1987 as its first — and only — fire chief. Scott came along two years later, but it wasn’t the first time the two had worked together.

When he was 17, Phillips was a manager at the Daily Independent newspaper. It was then that he met a “moppy-headed paperboy” named Danny Scott. Scott was 12.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best in the business,” Phillips told city council at Monday’s meeting. “I really felt like from the very beginning that I was where the Lord wanted me to be.”

He offered a few words of advice, cautioning that it wasn’t just for firefighters.

“The best advice I can give anyone … comes from Proverbs,” Phillips said. “In all your ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.”

Phillips expressed sadness at leaving the city’s employment, but will spend more time with his family, possibly traveling.

Assistant Fire Chief Danny Scott said the same thing.

“Before us, there were people in this city forging a way, volunteering their time,” Scott said. “They set the standard …

“You’ve been very good to us,” Scott added. “Thank you very much.”

Mayor Bob Misenheimer told the crowd gathered that while he doesn’t remember it, Phillips often tells a story about the two of them.

“He says I spanked the fire chief of Kannapolis years ago,” said Misenheimer, a former principal.

“You did,” Phillips called from the back of the room.

Councilman Gene McCombs, who used to serve as city manager, was the man who hired Phillips.

“During my career in Kannapolis, I made a lot of mistakes,” McCombs said. “One of the best things I did was hire Larry Phillips as fire chief.”

Phillips and Scott will end their tenure with the city on Dec. 31. A search is under way for a new fire chief; city officials expect that a new chief will be hired within the next few weeks.

Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or