Newcomer picked as Fireman of the Year for Nashville VFD

    Kenton Miller was named Fireman of the Year by the Nashville Volunteer Fire Department earlier this month.

    By Louie Graves
    News-Leader staff

    The fireman chosen by his peers as Fireman of the Year explains his enthusiasm for his firefighting experience as exciting and satisfying.

    Kenton Miller, 30, is a newcomer with the Nashville Volunteer Fire Department, but he is a newcomer with plenty of experience. At the age of 18 he joined the Yancey Fire Department where he served for six years before joining the County Line VFD.

    Being a firefighter is exciting, he says, but “there is something beyond that.” He says he appreciates being able to serve, and enjoys fellowship with fellow department members who include his brother, Royce. He also has three brothers serving in the Ozan VFD. Both his father and his grandfather were firemen, so wearing the gear and fighting flames is in his blood.

    Miller and his wife, Crystal, have two sons — Cole, 4, and Cash, 1.

    The Fireman of the Year award is presented at the department’s annual December gathering, and the recipient is chosen in one secret ballot — all firemen just write down who they think deserves the award, and the one with the most votes wins.

    Firemen are no longer volunteers, but are considered to be part-time, on-call employees of the

    city, according to Fire Marshal Jerry Harwell.

    They are paid $35 per call. They must participate in continuing education and other mandatory training.

    At one time, in order to be selected to fill one of the rare openings in the department, hopefuls had to go meet members of the department and lobby for their approval. Now, someone who wants to be a fireman needs to fill out an application which is available at Harwell’s office at the main fire station.

    The department includes 25 individuals, up from previous years, but the manpower needs are greater now because many members have jobs that prevent them from answering every call.

    Since the Fireman of the Year Award was started, winners have been:

    1987 Roy Blakely

    1988 James Daniel

    1989 Terry Ray

    1990 James Dyer

    1991 Cliff Petty

    1992 Ronny Woods

    1993 Jerry Harwell

    1994 Cliff Petty

    1995 Roy Blakely

    1996 Jimmy Mixon

    1997 Bobby Chambers

    1998 Jimmy Mixon

    1999 Joe Dallas

    2000 Gary Funderburk

    2001 Alfred Neeley

    2002 Matt Smith

    2003 Mike Kinkade

    2004 Terry Ray

    2005 Matt Smith

    2006 Jeff Westfall

    2007 Jeff Westfall

    2008 Jimmy Mixon

    2009 Jeff Westfall

    2010 Jeff Westfall

    2011 Jeff Westfall

    2012 Josh Worley

    2013 Josh Worley

    2014 Russell Sparks

    2015 Andrew Westfall

    2016 Michael Staten

    2017 Kenton Miller