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Dedicated Civil Servant Retires After 3 Decades

Max King during his time at the Leicester Fire Department.

LeicesterMax King celebrated 17 years at the Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and 37 working for Buncombe County. King is revered by his colleagues and beloved by the community for his dedication of service to Buncombe County.

December 28th was King’s last day on call as an emergency dispatcher. A fleet of fire trucks escorted the Leicester native home. For years, King was the first voice that people in distress heard when they called 911 from 3 to 11 pm. 

“It was heartwarming that they brought three fire trucks over and escorted me to my driveway that crowd on the way home,” King reflects.

King began his career in emergency services as a volunteer firefighter at the Leicester Fire Department for over twenty years. He served as chief for his final four years before transferring to the EOC. 

His final sign off on the evening of his retirement was a 3141, also known as a “rooster rescue.” This referred to a 1994 famed rescue of roosters being flooded during King’s time at the fire department. The infamous day was spoken about for years to come at the department.

Dedication to Buncombe County

King had an unrivaled dedication to his job. As an emergency dispatcher, he was the voice of hope on the other end of harrowing calls.

“I worked every Christmas and Thanksgiving for EOC. It’s a job that you have to love to do. I found it a privilege to be able to help Buncombe County,” King says.

One night on the job, a mother called 911 terrified when her son fell and hit his head on a tombstone at a cemetery. King talked her through an immediate course of action for the head trauma and consoled the woman as emergency services were dispatched to the area.

“This kid is dying, she’s praying. I said ma’am the best thing you can do right now is pray and I promise you we have help coming,” King says. 

The child later recovered in the hospital. His mother requested that she bring her son to meet King, to put a face to the fateful call. 

“She brought him by and I got to meet him. I cried more than the mom did,” King says. “Just to meet somebody that you got to help, that you thought wasn’t going to make it.”

King’s colleagues at the EOC celebrated his retirement on his final day with a socially distant party. Co-workers came in shifts with food and stories to reminisce. 

“It was a rewarding place to be,” King remarked. “One of the things that really stuck with me over the years was that I was able to help a few people.”

King has been working non-stop since he was just 15-years-old. His first job was at Knighten’s Tomato Packing House in 1973 where he made $2.50 an hour. He doesn’t plan to slow down upon his retirement. Rather, King plans to devote even more time to his community. He wants to become even more involved in volunteering for the Leicester Community Center.