Palm Coast People: Helping people motivated the city’s fire chief

Seventeen years in a career is a long time, but listening to Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill, it might have been the blink of an eye. Growing up in Lake Mary, Chief Berryhill moved to Palm Coast in 2005. In this new town, he met both his wife and his calling.
When asked, of all the professions available, why firefighting? Chief Berryhill points to his sports background, and with a grin says joining the fire department “sounded like fun.” It offered him an active lifestyle, and he felt drawn to the team dynamic. There was a deeper reasoning as well. Chief Berryhill admits he liked the idea of helping people. The opportunity to do something impactful, with the tremendous camaraderie of like-minded men and women, was too loud to ignore.
After climbing the ranks of the Palm Coast Fire Department, he attended the National Fire Academy in Maryland to learn how to be a fire chief. It is a different angle to the familiar mindset, nearly two decades in the making.
Firefighters are response forward minded people, the chief says. His responsibility is to make sure the path is clear for his fighters. “They do the job. I make sure they have the training, equipment, and protection they need to do it.”
This does not come without its share of obstacles, however. The same supply chain issues that have hit most of America have affected the department as well. Challenge presented and challenge accepted.
The chief adjusts and plans more strategically to accommodate these problems.
The common theme Chief Berryhill is planning. With this new perspective comes more emphasis on preparing for short- and long-term goals. As a newer firefighter, he remembers his perspective being simply, “We need this.” His perspective has changed to “How do we get this?”
Beyond the supply chain disruption, the next challenge is Palm Coast’s expansion. The community is growing. More housing developments and stores are rising where woods used to be. It does not deter Chief Berryhill, who stated “All communities change. Use that growth and change to fuel internal growth and develop the fighters and leadership to make the job better.”
Driving down the road, the average person might see the new neighborhoods being built as sleepy Palm Coast developing into a bigger town. Chief Berryhill sees growth for the fire department and its methodology.
With the new houses, the chief will have his department run drills to test response times to various parts of Palm Coast, mapping the best routes at different times of the day. These factors, with direction from city council, help determine when there’s need for more stations, fighters, and trucks.
Chief Berryhill’s mind is always on how best to serve the people of Palm Coast. He holds true to the values he learned since moving here in 2005: “Family, integrity, and loyalty.”
“I’m blessed to work with some of the best people I’ve ever met. The people who respond, it is important to them to do their best — every time.”