Gwinnett County has appointed Fred Cephas as its new fire chief, effective April 1.
Cephas, who has more than 20 years of experience in Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services, will succeed Russell Knick, who has been serving as chief since 2018. Knick will move into a leadership position within the County Administrator’s Office.
Cephas, who grew up in Mobile, Alabama, found his passion for serving as a firefighter while admiring the dedication of first responders in his hometown as a teenager. He served in the United States Air Force as a Department of Defense Aircraft Rescue Firefighter before joining the Winston-Salem Fire Department and then launching his Gwinnett County career in 2001.
He has since held various positions within the department, including strategic planning, accreditation management, operations, and serving as a licensed polygraphist. He has been serving as the department’s deputy fire chief since 2020.
As a county employee, Cephas has been known for his work ethic, his ability to connect with colleagues and residents, and his servant leadership.
County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson spoke highly of Cephas, saying, “He is truly a servant leader, and that is a trait we value when training successors for key roles in Gwinnett County.”
County Administrator Glenn Stephens praised Cephas for his military background and experience, saying, “With his military background and over 20 years of experience in Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services, Fred brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role as chief.”
Cephas’s priorities as the new fire chief are to continue to work on retention and team building within Fire and Emergency Services and to support other departments and agencies in the county government. He cited his most memorable moment in Gwinnett as serving in the field alongside first responders during an arctic blast that swept the nation over the past holiday season, where he witnessed their commitment, resilience, professionalism, and courage.
Cephas holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Shorter University. He is also a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett 2019.
Cephas is the first black fire chief in Gwinnett County history.