The city of Buckeye has selected John “Jake” Kent Rhoades Jr. as the new fire chief. Rhoades has more than 29 years of progressive experience in fire and emergency management, most recently as fire chief for the city of Kingman. He also held administrative fire positions in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
After serving a population of 32,463 in Kingman, Rhoades said he’s excited to take over as fire chief in a rapidly growing city of 90,182 people.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for me, both professionally and personally,” Rhoades said.
“From a professional standpoint, being able to join the team in Buckeye, a very well-known department, they have a lot going for them, but so does the entire city of Buckeye. So being a part of that, professionally, is very exciting as a fire chief, and being able to plan and see what the future has in store for the city.
“From a personal aspect, it’s exciting that I get closer to my sons. One is a firefighter down at Northwest Fire District, and that’s where my grandson of about eight months is. Also, my youngest son is a senior at ASU. Being closer to family is very important.”
Rhoades brings a lifelong passion for fire service and diverse experience focusing on continuous improvements in response and community service. His recent achievements in Kingman include accreditation status with the Commission of Fire Accreditation International and reducing the Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating from a 4 to 1.
“My goals for the Buckeye Fire and Medical Rescue Department are to continue and support the excellent work achieved by staff under the leadership of Bob Costello,” Rhoades said about the late fire chief he succeeds. “Through strategic planning and building collaborative relationships with the community, region and other city departments, I look forward to serving the city of Buckeye as it continues to grow.”
Rhoades has a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University, a master’s in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University, a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Oklahoma Christian University, and became a certified public manager through ASU.
He is also a member of numerous professional fire and public safety organizations, including the International, Western and Arizona fire chiefs associations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.
Rhoades said his experience in the fire service throughout his career has prepared him for his new role in Buckeye.
“If anyone looks at my resume, my career is very diverse. I continue to push myself and I push those around me for continuous improvement, always striving to do more and be better,” he said.
As he looks to move to Buckeye and begin his new assignment as fire chief on Dec. 6, Rhoades said he looks forward to joining a team with such an established and respected reputation, which he credits to Costello.
“Chief Castello set a really good foundation, a really good model for others to follow,” he said. “Buckeye has a very good reputation, and being selected to be a member of not only the department but the city team is very exciting. It is all about relationships. It’s all about communication. And that excites me. Driving around the city of Buckeye, there’s a lot to be excited about.”
In addition to becoming the new fire chief in December, Rhoades, his wife and his blue nose pit bull will also become Buckeye residents. He said he believes it’s important to be part of the community he will serve.
“Especially as an outside chief, I think that’s very important to say that I live in the community, I shop in the community, I am a resident, I am a community member. I’ve done that in all the cities I’ve gone to. I do like to get out and do other events in the community and respond and do those types of things,” he said.
Reflecting on his nearly 30-year career, Rhoades said that the people he’s encountered along the way have been his favorite part of his career.
“I’ve been very active both on the state levels and nationally the last few years and obviously jumping departments a few times. It’s always been the people because they are, the fire service and usually city government, the best people in the world because they have one thing behind it and that’s service,” he said. “The people, no matter where you’re at in the fire service, I’ve always been welcomed, and those relationships carry throughout my life and it’s tremendous.”
Now ready to join a fire department and become a resident of one of the fastest-growing cities in America, Rhoades said he’s looking forward to the next step in his career and thanks the city of Kingman for the last seven years.
“Both professionally and personally I could not be more excited for this job, but it is bittersweet leaving Kingman. Kingman has been very, very good to me, and I have a great team up here, a great city manager, and it’s bittersweet to say the least,” he said.
“But, of course, this is very exciting because you hear nothing but great things about Buckeye, about the Buckeye Fire Department and that model that they’ve created. I’m super excited to be part of that.”