Noblesville Fire Chief Retiring After 41 years of Public Service
Noblesville Fire Chief Ken Gilliam has announced his plans to retire on Friday, May 22. Gilliam began working for the Noblesville Fire Department in 1974 and has served two stints as fire chief (1993-1995 and 2004-2015).
“Fire Chief Gilliam is a true Noblesville success story. We are honored not only by his years of service but how he impacted the city throughout his career. Chief Gilliam has diligently served the community with devotion, courage and integrity. He will be missed, but we wish him the best of luck as he enters the next stage of his life,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear.
Gilliam was born and raised in Noblesville. He was a 1970 graduate of Noblesville High School and graduated from Wabash College in 1974 with a degree in economics. Gilliam started working for Noblesville Fire Feb. 16 during his final semester at Wabash
“The opening was here and had to be filled,” said Gilliam. “I got to know the firefighters and it seemed like a pretty cool job. I was always active in sports in my younger days so it really appealed to me. Being a fireman is very similar to playing sports – you’re always preparing for the big game and when it comes it’s an adrenaline rush. Although, I wasn’t absolutely certain it was what I wanted to do. When they talked to me about it I said, ‘I’ll give it a try and see if I like it.’ And 41 years later I’m still here.”
When Gilliam became fire chief in 1993, Noblesville had three fire stations. Because of a change in city leadership, Gilliam left Noblesville and served as fire chief in Sandusky, Ohio from December 1995 to February 2004. Gilliam returned to Noblesville 30 years to the day in which he started on Feb. 16, 2004. During his almost 22 years as fire chief, Gilliam has overseen the construction of five fire stations – the last four built in Noblesville and one in Sandusky.
“It’s probably where I feel the most fortunate – my career coincided with all the growth that occurred here. I’ve really been able to be a part of and watch the fire department grow from one station with 13 guys to seven stations with 131 people,” said Gilliam. “We are much more organized today. I haven’t the slightest doubt that has helped keep people from being injured and/or killed and have served the customer far better.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience that I would do over in a heartbeat. I really feel blessed to have a job and do something that made a difference for the community,” Gilliam said. A public open house for Gilliam’s retirement will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, May 22 at Noblesville Fire Station No. 71, 135 S. Ninth St. (the Public Safety Building).