New Mt. Juliet fire chief 'humbled' at hire

MT. JULIET – Erron Kinney was "humbled" to have been chosen as Mt. Juliet's first fire chief.
Mar 13, 2013
 Photo: Submitted to The Democrat

Erron Kinney
 Photo: Submitted to The Democrat

Jamie Luffman

MT. JULIET – Erron Kinney was "humbled" to have been chosen as Mt. Juliet's first fire chief.
"It's very humbling, an honor and a privilege to be appointed as Mt. Juliet's fire chief," said Kinney. "I am excited about working in one of Middle Tennessee's best cities. I am extremely excited about the opportunities that are ahead for the city's new fire department."
Mt. Juliet Public Safety Director Andy Garrett said the captain would be veteran Wilson Emergency Management Agency emergency medical technician and firefighter Jamie Luffman, of Mt. Juliet. Luffman's position is on hold for a few months in order to get funds appropriated to pay for his salary.
"It's not immediate," said Garrett. "It's not budgeted for yet."
Garrett said the new fire chief was supposed to be hired by Jan. 1, so there are a couple months of untapped salary funds that could potentially bring Luffman on-line prior to July 1 when the next fiscal budget is worked out.
"I am extremely honored to be part of this effort," said Luffman Monday. "It matters so much to be in my hometown with friends and neighbors, and I look forward to serving them."
Luffman said he has yet to meet Kinney, but has "heard wonderful things about him."
"I think he has a true serving spirit and a real desire for service," said Luffman. "There's something intangible about this business and Chief Kinney gets it. I look forward to giving him my loyalty."
He said he knows Kinney is not a football player that happens to be a firefighter, but a fire professional who just happened to be a football player.
Luffman will also be the department's volunteer coordinator. The department will rely heavily on a soon-to-be-appointed 25-member volunteer force.
"We may be a really small fire department, but we will be fast and aggressive," said Luffman. "It washes over my soul that I will be able to help organize the volunteers to enrich the department with their service."
Garrett said his first order of business will be hiring five firefighters and buying equipment.
Garrett said both men accepted the respective positions, but they remain conditional prior to passing human resources tests, such as drug screenings.
Kinney, who played seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans as a tight end from 2000-06, currently works for the Williamson County Office of Public Safety as a fire and rescue coordinator.
Garrett said both Kinney and Luffman have more than 20 years experience in firefighting and public safety.
Kinney's salary is set at about $63,000 annually, said Garrett.
Garrett said multiple attributes were sought in the optimum candidate.
"There were more than just three things [we were looking for]," said Garrett. "One was supervision, two was training certification, three was their history of progress through the ranks and also community service. There were a lot of factors that were taken into consideration for these candidates, so we did not concentrate on just one or two."
Garrett said Kinney possessed qualities both on and off paper. Kinney has been interested in fire safety since childhood, according to the release. He previously served as a captain for the St. Andrews Fire Department in Charleston, S.C. and as a firefighter in Brentwood. In 2004, Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed him to a seven-year-term with the Tennessee State Firefighting Commission. Prior to playing for the Titans, he attended the University of Florida, where he majored in elementary education.
"I know that Erron Kinney's exceptional qualifications and experience make him he best fit for our city," said Garrett. "Chief Kinney brings with him well over 20 years of exemplary service in all aspects of fire department management, coupled with his deep roots within the Middle Tennessee community."
Garrett said there was an exhaustive search to find the right person to be Mt. Juliet's first fire chief. They narrowed 46 resumes down to six, and one person did not want to move to Mt. Juliet.
"It's more than looking at a piece of paper," said Garrett. "It's about looking someone in the eye. He has enthusiasm and dedication."
Garrett said they knew from day one there would be a second-in-command at the fire station.
"Why waste money on another search when we had the perfect person for the job," Garrett said of Luffman.
City Manager Kenneth Martin said the result of the fire chief search went "phenomenally well."
"The two chosen are the best fit," he said. "They are wonderful firefighters, skilled in management and passionate. I think they will take great ownership of the department and what even more important, they are even better human beings."
He said Kinney was the "complete" package.
"With 20 years experience, with two positions as captain," he said. "It's time he has the rank as a fire chief."
The new fire station is quickly going vertical. The site work is nearly complete with several snags and more money than expected to prepare because of an underwater stream circumventing progress, as well as bad soil and utility lines thwarting progress.

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