Kingsville fire service rebrands itself with new department crest

The Kingsville Fire Department has made a break with the past and unveiled a new department crest. Town council approved the design Monday and some of Kingsville’s 58 volunteer firefighters will begin wearing the new crest in about two weeks.

Fire Chief John Quennell, who often uses sports metaphors to describe his role as chief, compared the crest switch to a sports team needing to rebrand itself with a new team logo and uniforms. “A fire department is like a sports team,” Quennell said in an interview. “We’re on the same team together, we have one common goal, we all want to work together and we’re proud of the uniform that we wear when we play the game or do our job.”

A poll of Kingsville firefighters “overwhelmingly” confirmed the new department patch. It features a fire hydrant, crossed axes, a pike and ladder and a red maple leaf set against a blue background. A popular Kingsville motif features two geese in flight at the bottom of the crest.

In the fall of 2020, after former chief Chuck Parsons took a leave of absence following a dangerous boat rescue, the town undertook a comprehensive review of the fire department. The report 

made a number of recommendations but also noted morale issues that needed to be addressed.

“A meeting was held with all Kingsville Fire & Rescue personnel and an overwhelming theme from that evening was that the department felt they wanted/needed to put the past behind them and move forward,” Quennell said in his report to council. “They wanted to feel proud to work for the department again.”

Parsons was hired after former chief Bob Kissner resigned after being charged with sexual assault. After Quennell replaced Parsons one of his first acts as chief was to assemble a group of six firefighters — three each from the Kingsville and Cottam stations — to work with a designer on a new crest.

“You should have seen them, like little eager beavers putting ideas forward,” Quennell said.

He said the team looked at 20 to 30 designs before deciding on one. A poll was taken of the 58 firefighters which “overwhelming” confirmed the choice.

“The identity of a fire service is shown by having their department crest displayed proudly on the shoulder of their uniform and the side of the apparatus that they ride,” Quennell told council. “There is an emotional component tied to the crest…. When the idea of rebranding was brought forward it was met with positivity and personnel thought it was a great step to help keep the department moving forward.”

The crest has elements common to many fire department flashes: crossed axes, a fire hydrant, a pike pole and a ladder. It’s set on a blue background with a red maple leaf in the middle. What makes it unique to Kingsville are the two flying geese set at the bottom.

Quennell said the switch to a new crest will come at no cost to the municipality. He said a private donor has given the department $1,000 toward the rebranding. He said the clothing allowance given firefighters will also help pay for the new crests.

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