New Dayton Fire Department DirectorGinny McCabe
Jeff Lykins was promoted to chief and director of the Dayton Fire Department on Jan. 17, replacing former chief Jeff Payne who retired after 31 years with the department. Lykins started with the Dayton Fire Department in 1992 and was promoted to fire lieutenant in 2000, fire captain in 2008, assistant fire chief in 2015 and deputy chief in 2017.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Ohio and have lived here all of my life. I have an amazing wife (Geri) and five incredibly talented children (Alexis, Abbey, Jett, Jax and Karyss). I have a bachelor of science degree from Anna Maria College and continue to work on a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Waldorf University. I am credentialed as an Ohio Fire Chief and have obtained Fire Officer I, II, III and IV certifications. In March, I will graduate from the National Fire Academy’s prestigious four-year Executive Fire Officer Program.
What has kept you devoted to the Dayton Fire Department for so many years?
Every fire chief will tell you that they have one of the very best departments in the country and they should absolutely feel that way. Every firefighter will also tell you that they want to fight fire and be where the action is. The DFD is a very busy department and we are blessed to have such an incredibly talented workforce that provides the highest level of EMS, rescue and fire suppression to more than 140,000 citizens that demand, and deserve, the very best service and care. I love this city and this department and have never considered working anywhere else.
Former Chief Jeff Payne recently retired after 31 years with the department. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. What are some of the biggest things you learned from Chief Payne?
Chief Payne was a great chief and did a lot for this department. I learned so much from him, not only from my time at fire headquarters, but also during our time together in the district. Chief Payne always treated people fairly and was committed to doing his very best every day. I could not have wished for a better mentor, co-worker and friend than Jeff Payne.
What do you feel are some of the greatest strengths you bring to the role?
I am very passionate about this profession and feel that some of my greatest strengths are authenticity, empathy and my ability to relate to the men and women of this department. When you fight as many fires as Dayton does you get to forge some incredibly strong friendships with those that you are literally relying on to survive. I have been a part of some incredible rescues as well as many tragic events and because of that I believe the members know that they can trust me during the good times and the bad times.
What’s one piece of advice would you give to young firefighters, or to someone who is just starting out in a community service role?
I would tell them that it is both an honor and a privilege to serve others and to never take a single minute of it for granted. As a firefighter you will witness the very best and the very worst of humanity. Keep a journal and write down every high and low that you experience along the way. By the end of your career, that journal will mean more to you than you could ever imagine and provide perspective to a life and career well earned.