MEET THE TEAM

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Chief Greg Grayson

Greg Grayson has more than 38 years of progressive experience in the North Carolina fire and rescue service.  His experience includes beginning public service as a volunteer firefighter and ascending the career ranks to become the Fire Marshal/Fire Rescue Director for Wake County, North Carolina.  In the following seventeen years, he served as the fire chief for three North Carolina urban cities – Burlington, Asheville and Greensboro. In these executive leadership capacities, he was responsible for comprehensive fire and rescue operations, prevention programs, training and career development, emergency management functions and specialized regional response teams. In Burlington, he effectively led positive organizational change and implemented an innovative reserve firefighter program.  In Asheville, he commanded significant re-engineering throughout the fire department and led Asheville to become an accredited agency.  In Greensboro, he led the department to maintaining both accreditation and ISO “Class1” status and navigated the department through difficult fiscal years and challenging large-scale emergencies.  In 2015, his long-term, dedicated public service to the people of North Carolina was recognized by the Governor through the prestigious “Order of the Long Leaf Pine”, the state’s highest honor that can be awarded to a citizen.   

 

Upon retiring from local government service, Chief Grayson was appointed by the State Fire Marshal in 2015 to proactively serve as the state’s first and only public fire service management consultant, providing high level technical assistance to county and municipal managers - enabling them to better strengthen their jurisdiction’s fire protection service delivery systems.  He also managed statewide fire service advancement initiatives and led the Office of State Fire Marshal’s Technical Services program.  

 

Beyond extensive experience, Chief Grayson holds a Master of Public Administration, bachelor and associate in fire protection. He holds numerous professional credentials including Chief Fire Officer (CFO), MIFireE from the Institution of Fire Protection Engineers and multiple other fire service certifications, including being North Carolina’s first Advanced Firefighter. He is one of very few, if not the only, Fire Chief in the United States to also hold the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-SCP credentials.  He is active in the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs and the IAFC Metropolitan Fire Chiefs organizations and continues to serve as a volunteer firefighter in his home community. 

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Chief Mike Varnell

Mike Varnell has over 30 years of experience in the North Carolina and United States fire service.  His experience runs the gamut in the municipal fire service by serving in positions from firefighter to fire chief.  Early in his career (1993) Varnell earned a commendation from Governor James B. Hunt for saving four children from a burning house.  In 1996, he was recognized by the NC Jaycees as one of the “Five Most Outstanding Public Servants” in North Carolina.  As his career progressed with Rocky Mount Fire Department, he was instrumental in leading the department through four successful international fire accreditation processes from 2003 to 2018.  In 2016, under his leadership the department was only one of two in the nation to receive the coveted “Heart Safe Community Award” from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.  

Chief Varnell is a graduate of the United States Fire Administration National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and the NC Association of Fire Chief’s Executive Development Program. Varnell holds a master’s degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and an associate degree in fire protection technology. He is credentialed by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and carries the “Chief Fire Officer” designation.  He currently serves as a peer assessor for Commission on Fire Accreditation International and travels across the country evaluating fire departments for industry best practices.  He has served on the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Professional Development-Higher Education Committee and represented Region 4 on the NC Emergency Management Domestic Preparedness committee. He holds numerous certifications in the fields of administration, emergency management, and the fire service. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the NC Accreditation Support Consortium, and the NC Association of Fire Chiefs.

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Chief David Bullins

David Bullins has served the NC fire service since 1982.  His career started as a volunteer in the rural Piedmont area and ended as a career municipal fire chief in the foothills of the state. Chief Bullins served the Summerfield Fire Department as a volunteer and was the first paid firefighter on their roster. His career continued with the City of Greensboro Fire Department where he rose through the ranks serving as firefighter, captain, battalion chief, and planning & research officer. Part of his career with Greensboro Fire Department was that of Training Officer.  Chief Bullins was appointed to the position of Fire Chief for the City of Statesville in 2007.  After retiring in 2014 from the fire service, he continued his training and education goals by serving as the Fire and Emergency Management Department Chair for Guilford Technical Community College. He now serves as the Director of Public Safety for Mitchell Community College in Statesville, N.C. and teaches fire technology and emergency management throughout the state.  Chief Bullins has a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Fire & Emergency Management Administration, a bachelor’s degree the University of Cincinnati in Fire & Safety Engineering Technology, and associate of applied science degree from Guilford Technical Community College. He also is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and is designated as a Chief Fire Officer (CFOD) from the Center for Public Safety and Excellence.

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Chief Wes Greene

Wes Greene served as the Fire Chief for the Town of Mooresville and the Town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Previous to serving as a Fire Chief, Chief Greene served with the City of Winston Salem Fire Department. Chief Greene also served as Senior Safety Officer for the National Parks Service post his retirement in Mooresville. He has served in multiple leadership capacities in North Carolina’s Fire Service including the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs and the North Carolina State Firefighters Association. 

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Chief Frank Blackley

Frank Blackley recently retired as an Assistant Chief from the Wilmington, NC Fire Department after 35 years of service. He was previously Fire Marshal during which time he served two terms as president of the NC Fire Marshals Association.  He was assigned as the Operations Chief for three years prior to his last position over Support Services where he supervised the training, fire and life safety, logistics, fleet maintenance divisions, and managed the department’s annual budget.  He previously work for Wrightsville Beach Fire Department and New Hanover County Fire Rescue. In recent years he has taught nationally for Vision 20/20 and is one of their technical advisors for Community Risk Reduction. He is an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy and assisted in development of a class on community risk reduction at the station level and.  He was heavily involved with the department’s accreditation process and understands the need for accurate data.  He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer’s Program and has a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning from UNC Wilmington. 

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Chief Wayne Hamilton

Chief Hamilton has over 44 years of fire service experience, serving with municipal and volunteer fire departments, and a county fire marshal’s office. He completed his first firefighting training certification program in 1977. He is an Asheville area native and last served with the Asheville Fire Department beginning in 1989 and retired in 2016 with the rank of Assistant Fire Chief. While there, he supervised the overall operations of the Fire Marshal’s Office, Fire and Arson Investigations, Fleet Procurement, Equipment Maintenance, Logistics, Purchasing, and their Hazardous Materials Data/Risk Analysis programs.

 

Hamilton earned a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Design from NC State University in 1983. He was an Adjunct Faculty member for Asheville-Buncombe TechnicalCommunity College’s Fire Protection Technology Degree Program for over 20 years and still is involved in education as a Fire Service Continuing Education Instructor for many community colleges throughout North Carolina. Additionally, over his career, Hamilton has held multiple certifications from the North CarolinaFire/Rescue Commission and the Code Officials Qualification Board; as well as from the NFPA, ICC, CPSE, and IAAI.

 

Hamilton has over 26 years of experience in fire and arson investigations. He has personally investigated over 400 fire scenes and served with both the Buncombe County Fire Investigation Support Team and the Asheville-Buncombe Arson Task Force. He has given testimony in both civil and criminal court cases and qualified as an expert witness in fire cause determination. He has been IAAI Certified Fire Investigator, Instructor, and Facilitator in the Expert Witness Program. Additionally, he is very active in the fire code development process for North Carolina and has served as the Chairman of the NC Fire Service Code Revision Committee for the NC Fire-Rescue Commission for over 10 years. Hamilton served six years as the State Fire Services’ representative to the NC Building Code Council, having been appointed by the Governor of North Carolina. His term ended in 2021 and he is currently serving on the NC Ad-hoc committees developing North Carolina’s 2025 Building and Fire Codes. He was conferred “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” by the Governor of North Carolina in 2016 for his service to the State of North Carolina. Also in 2016, he was inducted as an “Honorary Life Member” of the NC State Fire Marshal’s Association.

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Chief Wes Hutchins 

Chief Wes Hutchins serves as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs.  Previously, he served as the Dean of Emergency Services for Forsyth Technical Community College.   He served for 44 years as the Fire Chief for the Walkertown Fire Department, where he currently serves as an elected Town Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem.   Chief Hutchins has earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Grand Canyon University, a Bachelor degree from Gardner-Webb University and an Associate Degree in Fire Protection from Guilford Technical Community College.   Chief Hutchins has also served in a host of leadership roles in North Carolina fire service organizations.

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Chief Todd Tuttle

Chief Tuttle is a 30-year fire service veteran who also served as a paramedic. He currently manages intricate records management systems for the City of Greensboro Fire Department, which is an accredited, ISO Class 1 city. Chief Tuttle is recognized throughout the state and nation as a technical expert on Firehouse records management systems as well as data analysis. 

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Chief Chris Perry

Fire Chief Chris Perry has over 34 years of fire service experience.  He began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Zebulon and was later hired as Zebulon’s first career firefighter.  Chief Perry then advanced to serve as a Deputy Fire Marshal with Wake County for the following sixteen years at Wake County as a fire inspector, fire investigator, and ultimately as the Chief Deputy Fire Marshal of Operations.  In 2008, Chief Perry left Wake County to serve in Johnston County as Assistant Director of Emergency Services, where one of his responsibilities included being the County Fire Marshal.  Most recently, Chief Perry returned to the Town of Zebulon to serve as the Fire Chief, where he had continued to serve as a volunteer since he left full-time employment.  Chief Perry has earned an Associate Degree in fire protection from Wilson Tech and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science through Columbia Southern University.  In addition, Chief Perry earned the international professional designation of Chief Fire Officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing, through the Center for Public Safety Excellence.