MILTON, Ga. — Milton Fire Department has found its new chief in Gabe Benmoussa. The city announced Benmoussa’s hiring last week and he is expected to begin next month.
Benmoussa’s life and career has led him to several areas around the globe. He is of Moroccan descent, studied collegiately in Greece and has worked in several regions of the United States.
He says he’s happy to return to Georgia, where his career began 20 years ago, and he’s just as happy to call Milton his new home.
“Milton stands out because it is a really unique community,” Benmoussa said. “My attraction to Milton is the level of involvement the fire department and community has, and the community loves the fire department, which is great. It seems to me the department is a part of the community, not just a service.”
He said the quality of life in North Fulton and the city’s leadership were factors in wanting to lead Milton Fire.
Benmoussa says he thinks a successful fire chief is extremely engaged with his department and the community, and he is looking forward to leading a department that has around one-third the number of employees than his current post.
“That’s great, because with four stations, you can talk with those in your department and see them every day,” he said. “That is another attraction to Milton, I want to be involved and build those relationships. And in this day and age, you can’t be an island, you have to build those partnerships with other jurisdictions, other cities and schools.”
Benmoussa joins the department in a transitionary period with the recent opening of the city’s new fire station at its Public Safety Complex and the reconstruction of Station 42 next year.
“I really admire the work that went into designing that station,” he said. “I actually love stations that are part of the landscape and community. I believe fire stations are like the anchor of the community. It’s a public space, a safe space and I’m a fan of that interaction our doors being open for the community. And I think the city has gone above and beyond to create a safe, clean space.”
Respondents to a recent survey of some Milton residents said having more diverse leadership could benefit the city. Benmoussa’s hiring will aid that effort, and the new chief plans to focus on creating a diverse department.
He was a board director for the Northwest Fire Diversity Council, which operated as a “one-stop shop” for members of underrepresented groups to begin their firefighting career, and served on the Salem, Oregon, diversity, equity and inclusion focus group.
“Diversity enriches the community and any organization, and I plan to continue that path,” Benmoussa said. “Different ideas and cultures make for successful organizations.”
Benmoussa said his initial priorities will be learning more about the department and fostering relationships with its employees, city staff and others, and to understand Milton-specific operations.
“It is an honor and a privilege to serve both the citizens of Milton and its Fire Department,” Benmoussa said.
Benmoussa began his career with DeKalb County in 2000 before serving in several firefighter roles in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. He then served as Deputy Fire Chief in Pullman, Washington, before his most recent role as Deputy Fire Chief in Salem, Oregon.
Benmoussa replaced Robert Edgar, who retired earlier this year after serving as Milton Fire’s only chief.