Saving lives in Hillsborough County and mentoring recruits to do the same

One green duffel bag and a lifetime of memories accompanied Kimble McNeal on his move from Greenville, Mississippi, to Clearwater, Florida, in July of 1981. Being the oldest son of eight siblings, McNeal had always carried family responsibilities on his shoulders; he was ready for a change. Moving to Tampa Bay and joining the Coast Guard gave him the opportunity he sought.

During his six years in the military, McNeal developed a desire to serve in a different way. He wanted to become a firefighter. Taking the necessary steps to make his interest become a reality, McNeal worked double time. He completed the Fire Academy while serving in the Coast Guard, and, in 1987, Kimble McNeal joined Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

During Black History Month, the good work that Hillsborough County team members do for the community is highlighted. Today, we celebrate Capt. Kimble McNeal, whose dedication to service during his tenure with the County is exceptional.

McNeal feels that he is called to this line of work for a reason: to serve residents and develop great people. He approaches his career, personal life, and the way he mentors new firefighters guided by this belief, and he has continued to share his passion to serve in Hillsborough County for 35 years.

When it comes to the uniform, McNeal wears it with the utmost respect and pride. He tells new recruits to hold their position in high regard. "If you take care of your job, the job will take care of you," McNeal repeats. The badge is something to be revered, he says.

McNeal wants more young people to choose this profession. It is not just a job but a career, McNeal believes. One built out of good people doing a great service. In fact, Marcus McNeal, Kimble's son, chose the same path and has served Hillsborough County as a firefighter for two years. The legacy begins.

McNeal and his wife of 34 years have raised four children and have nine grandchildren in the Tampa Bay area. Although McNeal has been firefighting and saving lives for over three decades, he is not done yet.

When asked about his favorite aspect of station life, McNeal explains that it is making a difference in the life of someone in need. "It doesn't matter if you have nothing, or if you have everything. When people are in pain, humanity is humanity."

Last Modified: 1/25/2024, 5:44:57 PM

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