Fire Chief Russell Knick
Gwinnett County Fire Chief Russell Knick began his successful career with Gwinnett County in 1990 in the Sheriff’s Office before transferring to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in 1993. Russell’s 26 years of experience in fire and emergency medical services include high-profile assignments in the areas of strategic planning, leadership development, training, accreditation, and community partnering initiatives.
Committed to the well-being of the department’s 961 employees and their families, Russell is a strong advocate for employee safety and engagement. He also thrives on challenges that embrace innovative best practices and is a respected leader for his well-rounded management experience and passion for community-focused customer care.
Russell holds a BS and a Master of Public Administration from Jacksonville State University and a career excellence designation as a Chief Fire Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He is a member of the 2018 class of Leadership Gwinnett.
Russell, a Lawrenceville native, lives in Commerce with his wife, Patti. They have two grown children.
Department Deputy Director:
Deputy Chief Fred 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). He joined the department in 2001 and has since served in various capacities to include strategic planning, accreditation manager, Operation’s Chief, and polygrapher. Chief Cephas currently serves as the Deputy Director over the Operations and Community Risk Reduction divisions that bridges emergency operations and prevention efforts together for a safe and healthy community. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in business administration and MBA from Shorter 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 Brian Wolfe
Brian Wolfe began his firefighting career in 1996 as a volunteer in the City of Roswell. He joined Gwinnett in 1998 as a paramedic and worked his way through the ranks to the Assistant Chief of Business Services in 2018. Brian manages a combined $124 million budget, provides leadership to more than 30 employees, and oversees all fire facilities, apparatus, EMS billing, and resource management. Chief Wolfe earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Richmond and holds a Masters in Safety, Security and Emergency Management with a dual concentration in Fire and Emergency Services Administration and Emergency Management from Eastern Kentucky University.
Employee Support and Training Division Director:
Assistant Chief Stoney Polite
Stoney Polite joined Fire and Emergency Services in 1999. During his 22 years of service with the department he has served in various positions within Operations, Training, and Fire Headquarters. As the Assistant Chief of Employee Support and Training, Chief Polite oversees Employment, Human Resources, Safety, Resources and Marketing, and the Training Academy which includes the accredited paramedic program. 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.