Meet Rocky Mount’s First African-American Fire Chief

Rocky Mount Fire Chief

For more than a century, those at Rocky Mount’s Fire Department have bravely placed the needs of our citizens first and foremost.

Now, as the department enters a new era of leadership, it also makes history--- Rocky Mount’s Fire Department recently named its first African-American fire chief.

Corey Mercer, who has worked in firefighting since 1994, was sworn in during a ceremony on September 19.

His impressive career has spanned 25 years, where his journey actually began at the Rocky Mount Fire Department. Mercer joined the Rocky Mount Fire Department years ago and steadily advanced to positions of fire engineer, fire caption and battalion chief. Then, he left the area to serve as the fire chief for Elizabeth City. 

Mercer, who is originally from Wilson, has an associate’s degree in fire protection from Wilson Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Mount Olive College.

He continued his education by earning an advanced master’s of science degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Fire Academy Executive Officer Program. An Army veteran, he has served two tours in the Middle East.

He’s a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, North Carolina Accreditation Support Consortium, North Carolina State Firefighter’s Association and the Center for Public Safety Excellence where he serves as a Level 1 peer assessor.

The Rocky Mount Fire Department: A Legacy of Excellence

The Rocky Mount Fire Department has earned its own set of impressive accolades throughout its 123-year history. One of which is that it has been awarded Internationally Accredited Agency status four consecutive times.

In addition, it was one of only two departments in the United States that were recognized with the Heart Safe Community Award. This award recognizes the outstanding work of agencies who craft creative approaches to prevent heart-related diseases in their communities. 

The Heart Safe Community Award required that the fire department demonstrate its expert use of bystander CPR as well as its advanced, out-of-hospital care capabilities.

In addition to showcasing expertise in using advanced life-support techniques, the fire department also provided AEDs-- Automated External Defibrillators—throughout the community.

Things You May Not Know About the Rocky Mount Fire Department

Of course, you realize that the fire department owns and operates several fire trucks and pumpers. (You can see a list of them on the Fire Department’s webpage.)

But were you aware that they have inflatable rescue boats as part of their Swiftwater Emergency Response Team (SERT)?

The boats are transported via a 24-foot Horton enclosed trailer that also carries equipment such as 3,000 feet of rope, marine radios, equipment bags, carabiners, pulleys and ascenders.

Fire safety is also a large part of the Rocky Mount Fire Department’s mission. There is a Fire and Life Safety Educator who is available to provide extensive information to residents and students. The focus? How to stay safe and calm in case of a fire. 

While tours of the fire station and public education programs are available, they require a two-week advance notice. Programs will be rescheduled if the crew is called away for an emergency. All programs must be for educational purposes.

Thank a Firefighter Today!

When seconds count, too many of us fall to panic and fear. However, these brave firefighters rush toward the flames instead of running away from them.

Their dedication to the community expands to much more than fighting fires. Their honor and integrity go a long way toward making Rocky Mount a safer community. 

These firefighters often do this work without appreciation or accolades. Let’s change that! 

When you see a firefighter in the community, take time to say thank you. 

And if there are any firefighters reading the Rocky Mount Review, we want you to know that what you do is seen, noticed and deeply appreciated. Our entire team wants to thank you!

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