Chief Keys completed a total of 31 years of service, beginning as a firefighter for a high volume station in the Bronx. As a Captain and Lieutenant, he served various municipalities including Midtown Manhattan, until settling into East New York Brooklyn, after being promoted to Battalion Chief. Within his new role he took charge of Research and Development where he learned how new innovations are tested and introduced to the fire service. Currently, he is the host of Rapid Fire Podcast. Get to know a little more about him!
How do you like being the host of Rapid Fire Podcast?
I love it. What I like most is being able to learn how fire departments are adapting and overcoming some of the most difficult challenges of the last 40 years.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
The British Virgin Islands.
What is your favorite local restaurant or place to hangout?
The Bone Yard in Park City, Utah.
Which future topics would you like to cover with your guests?
I am hoping to talk about the concept of “fire as a weapon” or “PPE other than bunker gear”, in the near future. We're always looking for suggestions of topics that firefighters would find valuable and interesting.
What is your best advice for new college grads or job seekers looking for their first career gig?
Find something that you love to do and you will never have to "work" a day in your life! I loved working for the FDNY.
What are THREE things people don’t know about you and may be surprised to learn?
- I love sailing
- I like single track mountain biking
- I'm a Parrot Head
What is your favorite movie of all time?
What is your favorite cookie?
My Mom's chocolate chip bars.
What do you love most about your job?
Keeping in touch with firefighters. We share a unique view of life and I love to connect with similar minded people.
Have you learned anything new while hosting the show?
Absolutely. But what remains the same is that Firefighters will always find ways to overcome a challenge. No matter how big or hard. One such challenge that stands out in my mind was when FDNY Engine Companies went from averaging 1-2 CPR runs per day to 7 or 8 during the COVID-19 peak. In many instances, firefighters had to discontinue CPR and pronounce patients deceased which was unprecedented.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your professional life?
Being able to share my life's experiences to make firefighting a little bit safer.
Who is/was your inspiration?
Firefighter Robert Wiedmann FDNY Rescue 2, who survived a horrific flashover fire.
If you could go back to college today, what would your major be?
Ski Resort Management!
If you were stranded on an island and could only have THREE things, what would they be?
The Bible, fishing gear & beer.
Why do you think the fire community needs to listen to the show?
There is so very much to be learned from other firefighters experiences. Best practices and lessons learned can be pro-actively implemented to avoid potential tragedies. For example, many fire departments have not had to operate during a riot but being prepared by hearing what those who did, and how they adapted, is invaluable.