James Johnston


Kelly Blackmon

Fire Chief James Johnston was born and raised in Elko, Nevada. He graduated from Elko High School in 1993 and then attended Santa Rosa Junior College where he played 2 years of football. Chief Johnston then transferred to the University Nevada Las Vegas and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, while playing 3 years of football. Chief then became interested in becoming a firefighter and took an Emergency Medical Technician course. This was the beginning of his true passion, to respond to medical emergencies in the field. He took a second course while in Las Vegas as an EMT-Intermediate. Chief Johnston volunteered at St. Rose Sienna Campus Hospital , as well as, working at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. He began looking to search for a career in the fire service and was ecstatic when an opening in Elko became available in 2001.

As a firefighter he became humbled quickly, as working in a small town one finds oneself responding to relatives and friends. Upon being situated in Elko again, he met his amazing wife and have a great family with two kids. Chief went on to earn two more Bachelors in Science, one in Fire Administration and the other in Fire Technology. He then earned a Masters in Emergency and Crisis Management from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He also has a Paramedic degree from Great Basin College in Elko. He became a Captain at the Elko Fire Department in 2011, then Chief in 2023. Chief is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer from a third party committee, as well as, a graduate of the Managing Officers Program from the National Fire Academy. As a community member, he has been a Little League baseball coach, Cub Scout Assistant, and an Elder with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

As a fourth generation Elkoan, he can definitely tell you that he has a vested interest in our community and the decisions made within it. Chief Johnston had a passion for the behavioral health of the public and our first responders. Chief finds it challenging at times to try to get people help within the Elko area in behavioral health. Chief Johnston prides himself on putting the needs of his firefighters and his department as a priority.