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Fire Chief Frederick Cephas
Fred Cephas began his firefighting career in 1996 as a member of the United States Air Force, where he was trained as a Department of Defense (DOD) Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter (ARFF). After the military, he joined the Winston-Salem Fire Department prior to starting his career with Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services in 2001, giving him 27 years of experience in the industry. Since joining the department, he has served in various capacities, including health & safety officer, strategic planning, accreditation peer assessor, Operation’s Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and polygrapher. Committed to the health and safety of the community, Fred is a strong advocate for community risk reduction (prevention) and community engagement. He believes that partnerships and working as a cohesive team helps to accomplish the overall goal of community safety and well-being. His main focus for serving is supporting the residents, employees, and County. Chief Cephas earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and MBA from Shorter University.
Department Deputy Director:
Deputy Chief Stoney Polite
Stoney Polite joined Fire and Emergency Services in 1999. During his 23 years of service with the department he has served in various positions within Operations, Training, and Fire Headquarters to include Logistics Chief and EST Division Director. Chief Polite currently serves as the Deputy Director over Employee Support & Training and Business Services. Chief Polite is a 28-year veteran of the United States Navy and was deployed twice during his career with the department. Chief Polite earned a B.S. in Biology from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University and a Masters in Education from National University.
Operations Division Director:
Assistant Chief Clent Hughes
Clent Hughes began his Fire and EMS career in 1995 with a neighboring department. He began employment with Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services as a paramedic in 1998 where he promoted through the ranks within the Operations Division. He served 16 years on the departments Technical Rescue Team and served as a Task Force Leader for the Georgia Search and Rescue Metro Team TF-7. As the Operations Division Director, Assistant Chief Clent Hughes feels privileged to serve in the department’s largest division, consisting of 31 strategically located fire stations across Gwinnett County. Previously, Chief Hughes served as the Operations Deputy Chief where he supervised the Continuous Improvement section, managed the budgetary responsibilities for 31 fire stations, and served as coordinator and liaison for the departments’ specialty teams. Chief Hughes earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Waldorf University. He is a lifelong resident of Gwinnett County and currently resides in the Mill Creek area.
Business Services Division Director:
Assistant Chief Ronnie Ezell
Ronnie Ezell joined Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services in 2007 as a paramedic from Valdosta, Georgia. Ronnie grew up in Cairo, Georgia, and moved to Gwinnett for the opportunity to serve in a department that combines fire and emergency medical services into one role . Once completing the firemedic apprenticeship and fire recruit training, Ronnie served in several positions throughout the department. He served on the Hazardous Materials Response Team at Station 20, as a recruit instructor and lieutenant at the department’s Training Academy, Chief of Staff in the Fire Chief’s Office, and Logistics Battalion Chief in Business Services.
Chief Ezell was appointed to Assistant Chief of Business Services on May 27, 2023. His success can be credited to the mentors and peers who have helped him develop as well as his personal expectation of excellence. Chief Ezell’s mission statement is to, “Empower others to improve their personal and professional outcomes.” He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College and a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Liberty University.
Employee Support & Training Division Director:
Assistant Chief Phillip Merck
Phillip Merck began his career in 1998 with a volunteer fire department until joining Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services in 2000 while completing paramedic school. He was promoted through the ranks within various divisions with assignments to include Operations and Employee Support & Training. Chief Merck served as Driver Engineer, Lieutenant, Captain, Medical Supervisor, Program Director for our department’s paramedic program, Paramedic Accreditation Site Visitor, and Chief of Training. Chief Merck served in Operations as a Battalion Chief until taking the role of Assistant Chief of Employee Support and Training. He oversees employment, human resources, safety, and the training academy including the accredited paramedic program. Chief Merck has been instrumental in creating efficient department and training academy processes. In addition, he has been a huge advocate for community risk reduction, promoting fire prevention and life safety strategies in the community.
Chief Merck earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Leadership for Managers from Keiser University and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.