From the BOD

Press Release – Riceville Volunteer Department Hires New Fire Chief

August 30, 2021

On behalf of the Riceville Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, President Mark Curran announces the selection of Mr. Tom Kelly as the new Fire Chief. The announcement follows an extensive search which yielded several applicants from within the organization as well as North Carolina. This search and evaluation process was intricate and collaborative, encompassing in person interviews, and an intense back ground check. At the conclusion of this process Mr. Kelly was identified as the top applicant by the Board of Directors.

On August 6, 2021 members of the Board of Directors were invited to meet with Mr. Kelly as President Curran made the offer to become the next Fire Chief.  Chief Kelly’s first day in office was August 23, 2021.  He will direct a staff of volunteer, fulltime, and part-time firefighters with experience as certified North Carolina Firefighters, as well as Basic, Advanced, and Paramedic Emergency Medical Technicians.

Chief Kelly’s 33-year career began as a volunteer firefighter for the Seminole Trail Fire Department (Virginia) in 1988 prior to moving to North Carolina.  Upon arriving in Buncombe County, he continued his volunteer work until 1995 when he began a full-time firefighting career.  He worked his way up through the ranks as a Firefighter/EMT, Lieutenant, Captain, and Assistant Chief.  He currently has a Fire Protection Technology A.A.S. Degree, Emergency Management A.A.S. Degree, and numerous career development classes through the National Fire Academy. Other notable certifications include Fire Officer III, Fire Inspection III, and Fire Investigator Technician. Chief Kelly is an active Fire Rescue Instructor as well an EMS Instructor for several NC Community Colleges.  During his career he continued his volunteerism as Vice President and President for the Buncombe County Firefighter’s Association, team member of the Fire Investigation Support Team, and Deputy Commander of the Buncombe County Firefighters’ Honor Guard. 

In speaking of the appointment, Board of Directors President Curran, stated, “We are excited to welcome Chief Kelly to our leadership team.  As a retired Fire Chief, and as the Board President, we are very pleased with this addition and look forward to many years working together for success and future growth in the district.”

“I am thankful to our Board of Directors and members of the Riceville Fire Department for their support and this decision,” said Chief Kelly. “I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to serve as the next Fire Chief of the Riceville VFD District. The district has hands down top-notch firefighters and EMS personnel who serve the community in an exemplary manner providing a high level of professionalism and customer service. Becoming part of the team as the Chief is truly exciting.”  Kelly further stated “I would not have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the support of my wife, Meg, of 38 years as I studied into the early morning and having to get up to work a 24-hour shift at the fire department”.  His family also includes daughter Heather, sons James and Sean, as well as two grandchildren Zachary and Zona. Heather works as an animal advocate, James is a 20-year veteran Firefighter / Paramedic, and Sean is a retail manager.

For more information contact Mark Curran at

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