Jay Mebane was selected as the Chapel Hill Fire Department's new fire chief on June 2, and began work on July 3. Mebane previously served as the City of Burlington's fire chief.
Summer City & State Desk Editor Walker Livingston sat down with Mebane to discuss his new role and his goals for the CHFD.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
DTH: How has your transition from your role in Burlington to fire chief in Chapel Hill been so far?
Jay Mebane: It's been amazing and, truthfully, I've been received with welcome open arms from every division within the fire department. It's just been fantastic. My first week, I met with every person in the department that I could and explained my vision and what I'm here to do. I left them all with three questions. I said, "Do you care for me? Can I trust you? Can you help me?" And then I said, "I can tell you that I care about you, you can trust me and I'm here to help you," and that's my role as a leader within this organization, to propel an organization to its maximum capability by allowing people to know that I'm here for them and that they can trust me.
DTH: Could you tell me about your career and your time serving fire departments in Alamance County?
JM: I graduated Walter Williams High School in 2005. At the same time, I started working for the Burlington Police Department. I’ve been dabbling in public safety most of my adult life. A police officer introduced me to the fire chief of Burlington in 2007, and he asked me if I had any experience and I said no, so I started volunteering with the Mebane Fire Department and fell in love with it. In 2008, I ended up doing a lateral transfer to the Burlington Fire Department. And from there it was, I mean, it was history.
I went to school and got my bachelor's degree and multiple certifications and was able to rise through the ranks as a firefighter and in 2020, I was selected to become the fire chief for the City of Burlington and ventured back over to serve the men and women who had supported me for many years. It was good to feel the support and admiration from the men and women serving in the rank and file.
DTH: What are some of the things that make you passionate about firefighting?