MINT HILL, NC – Deputy Chief John Phillips joined the Mint Hill Fire Department in July of 1974 as a junior firefighter at the age of 16. A lifelong resident of Mint Hill, Phillips attended Bain Elementary and Northeast Middle School and graduated from Independence High School in 1976.
Growing up, the fire department was more of a sideline for Phillips, who worked in his family’s truck equipment business. “My granddad started it in 1948,” says Phillips. “My dad went to work for him in the 60s. I was involved in it since birth! Mechanic, fabricator, welder – I did all of that.”
But Phillips never left the Fire Department behind, and as the department grew and evolved, so did Phillips’ role in it. Before he reached the age of 20, Phillips was elected to be a captain, and at 22, he became Chief of EMS Service, a role he stayed in for 18 years. When Chief Paul Campbell retired in 1998, Phillips took over, remaining in the role of Chief until 2005. In 2007, he became the department’s first full-time night time firefighter. Currently, Phillips serves as the department’s Deputy Chief.
When he’s not at the Fire Department, Phillips enjoys spending time with his four children and nine grandchildren. They enjoy family camping trips to the beach and the mountains. Moreover, Phillips is proud to say that all four of his children have pursued careers in medicine or fire service.
What’s kept Phillips at the Mint Hill Fire Department for nearly half a century is simply his drive to help people. “There’s just something that’s always been in me that if somebody needed help, and they called out for that help, I wanted to be one of the people to fix their problem,” he says. “That’s still what keeps me going, helping someone on their worst day and seeing if we can bring some kind of fix to it, if you will, or some kind of calm to it if nothing else. Trying to help people through bad spots – that’s what we’re here to do.”