Just about a month shy of a third anniversary for the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet, two vital upper-level volunteers have been promoted to paid positions at the department.
FDMJ Chief Jamie Luffman said volunteers Chris Allen and Shawn Donovan have been promoted to paid positions, effective July 1. Allen was formerly co-volunteer captain and Donovan was formerly volunteer division chief.
"The fire department is uniquely financed with a property tax," Luffman said Thursday morning. "We are maximizing the most of our dollars with a great investment in the service level on the fire truck.
"Now we have paid staff part-time to fulfill the role of deputy fire chief of operations, in Chris Allen, and assistant chief of training and volunteers, in Shawn Donovan."
Luffman said both of these men, Allen, a federal law enforcement special agent for 15 years and in fire service 30 years, and Donovan, a lieutenant for the Franklin Fire Department, "made great strides in growing our department and making it run more efficiently and effectively."
"Promoting them will help infuse their effort," said Luffman. "I checked with their wives for support and got it. Now we are bumping up to the next level with set hours and pay for positive results. Both live here and have a passion for the department. I saw the opportunity to reward and put it in the budget. We've already made good strides in the first month."
Those strides include department-specific policies now in place and staffing ideas for the future.
"Obviously, we need more staffing," Luffman said.
Currently there are 18 paid staff and 25 volunteers. On shift there are three employees at Station 1 on Belinda Parkway and three at Station 3 behind Mt. Juliet City Hall, Luffman said.
"If we are fortunate enough to build another station in North Mt. Juliet, we'll know we are growing and need more personnel," said Luffman. "We need to make sure everything is in place and use the resources we have now, we need to utilize them and then do our due diligence."
Eventually, as the city grows, there will be a need for a full-time deputy chief, Luffman concedes.
"We have to have realistic expectations and know there are no shortcuts. We need vision, creativity and optimism."
On August 22 there is a workshop set for Mt. Juliet city commissioners where FDMJ officials will present the status of the department to commissioners.
Allen's new responsiblities
Allen said his responsibilities will now be overseeing the daily operations of the fire department and deal with staffing, to equipment upgrades and personnel.
"I've been here nearly three years," he said. "I'm excited. There are some challenges. It's been a whirlwind this first month. Right now my number one priority is obtaining additional career firefighters on shift to maintain minimum staffing levels."
Allen said he believed the "immediate need is three additional full-time firefighters, one per shift, to be able to maintain our current minimum staffing levels."
"FDMJ is made up of dedicated career and volunteer members, and it is my job to ensure they have the resources necessary to provide the best possible service to the citizens and visitors to Mt. Juliet."
Status of third fire station
Luffman said there are still two, potentially three, parcels of land pinpointed for a third station in North Mt. Juliet. Those are on North Green Hill Road, property owned by West Wilson Utility, and property owned by Greenhill Church on Lebanon Road. And there are still rumblings about securing donated land from the Wilson County School System where their new high school will be built on Lebanon and North Green Hill roads. These are still up for review.