Friday, 07 June 2024 14:16

New Akron Fire Chief Appointed Today Featured

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Chief Leon Henderson Chief Leon Henderson City of Akron

The City of Akron has a new Fire Chief.

Deputy Chief Leon Henderson has been with the Akron Fire Department for 34 years, rising through the ranks from firefighter/paramedic in 1990, to stepping into the role of Fire Chief, today.

He replaces former Chief Joseph Natko, who announced his retirement from the department in March, and took on a new role with the administration as Assistant to the Mayor for Emergency Management.

Though Henderson was appointed and sworn in by Mayor Shammas Malik this morning; there will be a public swearing in celebration sometime in the coming weeks (the exact date has not yet been announced).

In the meantime, citizens can meet the new Chief at a Public Town Hall this coming Wednesday, July 10, from 5-6:30pm at the Akron Summit Public Library in downtown Akron (60 S. High St.).

Fire Chief Swear In 2

New Fire Chief Leon Henderson, is sworn in by Akron Mayor, Shammas Malik

Fire Chief Swear In 3

Fire Chief Leon Henderson & Family (wife, Sarah, and son, Abraham), along with Mayor Shammas Malik

Chief Leon Henderson, Bio:

Chief Leon Henderson has a proven track record with three decades of experience in fire service, fire prevention, safety communications, and emergency response. A proud graduate of Akron Garfield High School and a veteran of the U.S. Army, Chief Henderson began his distinguished career with the Akron Fire Department in 1990 as a firefighter/paramedic. Over the years, he has risen through the ranks, serving as a Firefighter/Paramedic, Dispatch Supervisor Lieutenant, and Captain Safety Officer, before being promoted to District Chief in 2018 and Deputy Chief in 2022.

Chief Henderson’s extensive training and certifications reflect his commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. He has undergone training in FEMA Community Preparedness and various Advanced Incident Command Classes, OPOTA Law Enforcement Training at SACS Training Academy, and is an NAUI Certified Rescue Diver. He is also a State Certified Fire Inspector and Instructor. Additionally, he has completed an Arson Investigation Certification at the National Fire Academy and received specialized Information Technology Training.

In his role as Deputy Chief, Henderson demonstrated exceptional leadership by fostering a culture of adaptive leadership and promoting diversity within the department, achieving a historic 44% minority recruitment rate in the 2024 Akron Fire Department Graduation Class. His commitment to community safety is reflected in the creation of fire prevention education programs, ensuring the safety of Akron businesses and Akron Public Schools.

As District Chief, Henderson managed critical projects, including the implementation of a consolidated CAD system, resulting in significant cost savings and enhanced operational efficiency. His strategic oversight in deploying the WestNet Alerting System and conducting the first mock drill for the Safety Communication Center further showcased his dedication to improving emergency response capabilities. 

Beyond his technical expertise, Chief Henderson is a proactive leader in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. He served on the City of Akron's Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, launched the Akron Fire Department Human Relations Committee, and designed a job recruitment task force in collaboration with other city departments and local organizations to enhance employment opportunities.

Chief Henderson’s career is marked by his dedication to public safety, community engagement, strategic leadership, and an unwavering commitment to serving the Akron community. His extensive experience in project management, communications, and emergency services consistently demonstrates his ability to lead teams, implement innovative solutions, and foster collaboration across various departments and organizations.


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