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Larry Keen and Freddy Johnson shake hands while holding a white fire chief's hat.

FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen accepts a white fire chief’s hat from Freddy L. Johnson, President of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association on Nov. 16, 2022. [Photo by Brad Losh]

Fayetteville Technical Community College President Dr. J. Larry Keen worked long and hard to make the College’s new fire and emergency training complex a reality.

Now the complex will bear his name.

Keen, who is retiring Jan. 1, learned Wednesday night that the 30-acre complex will be called the Dr. J. Larry Keen Regional Fire and Emergency Training Complex. The College’s Board of Trustees made the decision in closed session last month. The name was unveiled Wednesday night at a gala honoring Keen. Cumberland County Commissioners Glenn Adams and Jimmy Keefe announced the name. County officials and the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association have been key partners with Keen and FTCC in the development of the $47 million project. The county’s legislative delegation, including N.C. Sens. Kirk deViere and Ben Clark and N.C. Reps. Marvin Lucas, Billy Richardson, John Szoka and Diane Wheatley, has also played an important role.

The first phase of the state-of-the-art complex opened in September. It includes a 24,000-square-foot training center, with classrooms, simulation labs, locker rooms, apparatus bays and offices; a technical rescue facility with a 4-story training tower; an area for trench collapse training and other confined space training; and a memorial plaza.

Work is underway on the rest of the complex, including the only indoor Swift Water Rescue Training facility on the East Coast; two additional burn buildings; and an aircraft burn simulator. The complex is at 775 Tom Starling Road in Fayetteville.

Cumberland County donated the site for the complex. Major funding sources include FTCC, the county and the state.

Wednesday night’s gala was hosted by FTCC Foundation. At the gala, Freddy L. Johnson Sr., chief of Stoney Point Fire Department and president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, thanked Keen for his leadership, support and dedication to the county’s fire and rescue services. Johnson presented Keen with a fire chief’s helmet, saying Keen is now an honorary fire chief with the association.

A room full of people in formal attire stand and applaud Dr. Larry Keen, who is standing in the foreground.

Guests at the gala stand and applaud. [Photo by Brad Losh]

Keen was lauded by several other speakers, including FTCC Foundation Board Chair Brad Hurley, FTCC Board of Trustees Chair David Williford, Fayetteville State University Chancellor Darrell Allison, Methodist University President Dr. Stanley Wearden, and Dr. Greg Winters, a longtime colleague and friend of Keen’s from Oklahoma. Before moving to North Carolina in 2002 to work for the N.C. Community College System office, Keen spent three decades in Oklahoma, getting his education, then working in various educational and workforce training and development roles. He was named president of FTCC in 2007.

FTCC was founded in 1961 as a job-training institution and became a community college in 1963 when the statewide Community College System was created. The College serves more than 28,000 students a year with occupational, technical, general education, college transfer and continuing education programs leading to more than 280 degrees, diplomas and certificates. For more information about FTCC, please visit For more information about the Dr. J. Larry Keen Regional Fire and Emergency Training Complex, please visit