Miller to retire as Jonesboro fire chief – NEA report


Jonesboro Fire Chief Kevin Miller was looking for this opportunity.

In recent weeks, he has found it.

Miller, 57, announced his retirement, effective June 30, first to those who have been his most trusted leaders over the past decade. After 10 years as a chief and more than 35 years with the Jonesboro Fire Department, Miller is looking forward to a uniform that might require fewer buttons and more tennis shoes.

A lifelong resident of Jonesboro who has spent a career putting others first, Miller is ready to focus a little more on those closest to him, starting with his wife Rhonda.

“We want to do certain things with our kids and our grandkids,” said Miller, who has three grown children and four grandkids. “There were sacrifices, and my wife and family were willing to endure those sacrifices. It’s time for them to become my full-time focus.

Miller will be remembered by his Jonesboro Town teammates as a quiet leader who made preparation and safety his constant priority.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to see Chief Miller leading his department,” said Mayor Harold Copenhaver. “I quickly understood how he manages a large and complex department with some of the most critical responsibilities a city can have.

“I also admired his respectful and diligent defense of his ministry. He brought all the qualities a mayor could ask of a fire chief.

Copenhagen said Miller’s successor will be named shortly.

Miller said he was retiring to spend time with his family, but the time has come as the department is in good shape and in good hands with the administration in Copenhagen.

“I think the fire department is ready for big things in the future,” Miller said. “We have an excellent base with very good people. The challenge is to always keep up with the growth the city is experiencing, but I am pleased with the support of the Mayor’s administration and their commitment to public safety, and I believe this will continue.

While the number of lives saved during Miller’s tenure as chief remains uncalculated, one number is known to most Jonesboro home and business owners: a Class 1 Insurance Services Bureau rating It keeps property insurance prices lower, and Jonesboro was among the first of less than 10 Arkansas fire departments to receive such status.

Miller attributed this to the addition of staff, the construction of new stations in locations to accommodate Jonesboro’s expanding neighborhoods, equipment upgrades and an important partner: City Water and Light.

“CWL has increased their water flow through our water supply, and they’ve been the best partner a city could have,” Miller said. “CWL has been fabulous for us.”

Former deputy fire chief Alan Dunn said Miller created policies and practices that helped transform the department into its current iteration.

“He instituted several programs, like the fitness initiative, that had an incentive to make sure everyone was in the best physical condition,” said Dunn, who retired two years ago. “The thought was ‘We are a professional organization so we need to be professional.’

“It wasn’t just about strength and endurance, but it gave the guys confidence that they could do certain things.”

Current deputy chief Marty Hamrick said it was Miller’s encouragement and instruction that motivated him to rise through the ranks.

“Going up the ranks, I was always happy to be where I was,” Hamrick said. “The firefighters, sitting at the back of the rig, and Chief Miller were always pushing me, saying, ‘You have to think about the next level. Without him pushing me, I could climb on the back of this platform.

Hamrick said Miller was the consummate professional not just as a chef, but early in his career as a shift commander.

“I knew if Chief Miller told me to go to any section of a house that he would support me and watch out for anything that might be wrong,” Hamrick said.

Miller was inspired to join the JFD by watching his father serve in the Volunteer Fire Department growing up in the Philadelphia community. He said his early days as a firefighter were exhilarating, but as he grew into a leader he became less enthusiastic about hearing the alarms.

“I like boring and boring,” he said. “When I was young I loved the excitement, the challenge and the fact that it really is a job where every day you are helping someone.

“As a chef, no drama means people don’t have a bad day. When this alarm goes off, it means someone is having a bad day.

The profession has changed over the years. In 2022, firefighters are doing much more than fighting fires.

“We put a lot more emphasis on the medical aspect,” Miller said. “It’s been a growing trend for over 15 years. Even the increased calls for a variety of things – medical, HAZMAT, specialist rescue – we have branched out into many areas.

As he relaxes with Rhonda and chases the grandkids around the park, he will reflect on a career well done and a life well lived.

“It’s great never having to have a real job,” he says. “I play firefighter. How cool is that?”

Press release – Town of Jonesboro

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