10aSafety Always better suits than the familiar Safety First slogan when it comes to the Fayetteville Fire Department, which has the vision to “realize a safe and secure community that is resilient against all hazards.”
The newest visionary leading this charge is Hope Mills’ native, Kevin Dove, the recently promoted fire chief of the circa-1791 department. Dove, the deputy fire chief of operations since June 2021, began his new role on March 4. The former fire chief, Mike Hill, retired in December 2023.
Dove recently spoke with Up & Coming Weekly about his promotion and his plans for the FFD.
“Without Jesus as Lord and Savior, nothing is possible. Through Him, all things are possible. And my achievement of this position is a perfect example,” Dove said, crediting God first for his rise to the city’s top firefighting position. This ascent began with Dove’s position as a volunteer firefighter at his home community station, Cotton Fire/Rescue Department, just south of Hope Mills. Born in Fayetteville, Dove is a 1997 graduate of South View High School.
Initially serving as a high school volunteer, Dove was offered his first professional position at age 18 at Cotton Fire/Rescue Department and joined the FFD in October 1999. Dove’s ranks in the department read like an honor roll call: lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, deputy chief of operations, and now, chief.
His educational background also exudes excellence. Dove holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and fire/rescue executive leadership from Waldorf University and a bachelor’s degree in fire service management from Fayetteville State University.
Per the Center for Public Safety Excellence, National Fire Academy and University of North Carolina School of Government, the Fayetteville leader holds certificates as a chief fire officer, executive fire officer and managing fire officer. Dove is a member of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association and the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs.
Completing all the necessary training, education and time commitments, Dove has served in all department ranks during his 25-year career. In becoming the fire chief, he was selected from a wide pool of candidates, including his peers and applicants from across the nation.10
Dove expressed gratitude to his predecessors, city leaders and his family.
“The members of the organization that have preceded me have laid an impenetrable foundation that we can build upon with the sky being the limit,” the new chief said. “I also want to thank the city manager and his team for their faith and trust in me, as well as my family for their unwavering support and encouragement.”
Married to Stephanie Dove, the chief and his wife live in Hope Mills and have a 12-year-old son, Cameron. Dove is a member of Southview Baptist Church and is very involved in the local community. He enjoys taking trips to White Lake and dirt sprint car racing with his son in his free time.
Dove also reflected on the fire “brotherhood,” the 351 men and women at 17 citywide fire stations with whom he has served and now oversees.
“I want to give a shout-out to my co-workers,” he said. “They are not going to let me fail because this place is just as important to them as it is to me. And even though I was able to come out as the new fire chief, they are just as qualified and deserving as I am. They are going to stick with me, and we are going to do good for the community.”
Doing good in the community is an understatement for the department that answered over 28,000 emergency calls in 2023. Dove highlighted that 66%, “the lion’s share,” were medical calls. Although fire protection is the department’s primary function, the need for the first responder program arose from an ever-increasing demand for emergency medical services. The department’s personnel are trained in specific divisions for rescue, hazardous materials and fire investigations.
“We call ourselves an all-hazards department,” Dove said.
Still, the new chief plans to tackle “the big three” challenges — recruitment and retention, cancer prevention and mental health — head-on.
“These initiatives were started by Chief Hill and other predecessors, but we have to continue to monitor them, improve upon them and stay at the forefront,” he stated. “These are hot ticket items in the fire service, not just here but nationwide.”
Capital improvement is another top agenda item.
“Station Four is being built as we speak,” Dove said. “And, the general obligation bond voted on last year includes Fire Station 16’s permanent location on Cedar Creek Road, the rebuilding of Station 2 in Haymount and Station 9 on Bonanza Drive. We have two new facilities coming, Station 18 and Station 20, in the five-year Capital Improvement Plan for expanded service, but they are the end of the five years, so two to three away.”
Dove, a soft-spoken leader and self-described introvert, said he has to “get comfortable being uncomfortable” now that he is at the forefront as fire chief — a position he never set out to obtain but quipped, “Every kid wants to be.” For life influencers, he names family and fellow firefighters. While Dove attributes his education to his grandmother’s persistence, he credits much of his life and career development to Cotton Fire/Rescue Department Chief Owen Harris and Deputy Chief Hank Harris: “As I said in my pinning ceremony, Chief Owen Harris taught me to be a man. And Chief Hank Harris taught me to be a fireman.”
Fayetteville’s highest-level professional fireman never stopped being a volunteer, by the way. Chief Dove has remained a volunteer firefighter at the Cotton Fire/Rescue Department, the very station that helped ignite his passion for firefighting over 25 years ago, all these years. Being a fire service member and having served in every fire service role gives him empathy for and an understanding of what his staff members face each day.
“I'm still a fireman at heart,” said the new chief.

(Photos-Top: Fayetteville Fire Department's Chief Kevin Dove stands in the City Council Chambers. Bottom: Fire Chief's son, Cameron, pins the Fire Chief badge to his father's jacket. Photos courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

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