Multimedia Communications Specialist II
Although prior to working for the VBFD Kirk was new to Fire Service Operations, he is no stranger to public service.
Before relocating to Virginia Beach, Kirk served as a Tennessee Law Enforcement Officer for over 11 years in the capacity of everything ranging from a Field Training Officer, a Narcotics Detective, to a Patrol Sergeant and was named "Police Officer of the Year" in 1994.
His passion for photography however led him back to school where he earned an Associate’s Degree from the Nossi College of Art in Photography and a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Austin Peay State University with a major in Photojournalism. Kirk is currently working towards a Masters Degree in Public Administration at Old Dominion University.
Kirk worked for Fox News in Nashville, Tennessee as a News Photographer and the Chief Video Editor.
As an award winning photographer, several of Kirk’s photos and videos have been featured on local and national news networks and have appeared in several national and international print publications.
Kirk has also had the opportunity to travel and work internationally with National Geographic Magazine. Kirk's craziest photography assignment was to run a full Marathon with two contestants from the NBC hit TV series "The Biggest Loser". Kirk was contracted by NBC to video document their achievement at every mile marker along the 26.2 mile course of the 2009 Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. The Marathon footage Kirk shot was featured on the 2009 season finale of "The Biggest Loser" however, Kirk's most inspiring and memorable photojournalism experience was on the island nation of Haiti following the tragic 2010 earthquake.
What he witnessed there fueled his desire to return to the public service arena and his passion for photography (not to mention his love for the ocean!) led him to transplant from Nashville, Tennessee to Virginia Beach to become part of the team at the Virginia Beach Fire Department’s Multimedia Services Office. Kirk was named "Best Photographer" in the 2011 City of Virginia Beach photography contest.
When Kirk is not at work, you will probably find him surfing the local breaks or taking in a nice long run as he is an avid surfer and long distance runner. Kirk is a PADI certified Divemaster with over 2000 logged dives, is an active member of Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, co-founder of the "Witness Thru Fitness" Christian wellness/outreach Ministry, and is an active member of the Tidewater Striders Running organization. Kirk is married to his best friend and soul mate Madeliene and they have three handsome sons and a beautiful daughter.
Ray Smith retired as a Master Firefighter from the VBFD in April 2003. Ray volunteers his time to the VBFD by archiving the department’s photos and has become a volunteer photographer where his photos are seen on various media outlets. Ray holds an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fire Science from Tidewater Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from St. Leo College.
Jonathan Austin - Multimedia Specialist
Jonathan Austin was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. When he was young he would take his dad's camera and would film his toys, so at an early age he realized he had a passion for telling stories through visual media. While attending Atlantic Shores Christian School, his media teacher noticed he was gifted in the area of visual storytelling, and by the end of his senior year he was writing, directing, and editing commercials for school events and morning announcements. He graduated high school in 2010 and started attending Tidewater Community College, where he continued to take photography and film classes. While attending Tidewater Community College, he was also an intern with the Virginia Beach Fire Department Multimedia Production Unit, where he stayed until he moved in 2012 to attend Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. There he studied film making and was a director, art director, writer, and editor on several different projects. He graduated in November of 2013. After graduation he briefly worked for ESPN Wide World Of Sports where he worked as an Assistant Highlight Editor. In March of 2014 he moved back to Virginia Beach, VA where he now works where he interned, with the Virginia Beach Fire Department Multimedia Services Office. Jon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in film studies.
Retired Master Firefighter / VBFD Photographer Ray P. Smith