With the surprise resignation of Fire Department of Mt. Juliet Chief Erron Kinney effective today, city officials quickly named the department's Assistant Chief Jamie Luffman as interim chief.
Kinney turned in his resignation this week, citing "personal issues" he needed to handle. He was hired to lead the city's first ever fire department in March of 2013.
"Jamie Luffman will become the interim chief," City Manager Kenneth Martin said Monday night. "I'm hopeful he will prove to be successful and possibly step into the role permanently."
Luffman was hired as Kinney's assistant chief to help Mt. Juliet establish its own fire department. He was a lieutenant and firefighter/EMT at Wilson Emergency Management Agency 16 years before he accepted the position.
"Jamie Luffman has a good crew of professionals and a good leadership team to help him as we move forward," said Martin. "The department is in great shape and I have complete confidence in Interim Chief Luffman and the entire FDMJ."
On Thursday, Luffman hit the ground running to prepare for his role as interim chief.
"It's exciting, it's daunting and of course I'll miss the chief," Luffman said Tuesday morning. "And while it may not be the best timing, I know Erron has things to address. He's gotten the fire department at a good position and forward momentum and it was okay for him to step away."
While Luffman joked his "reign" was just one day old, he already met with the department's Division Chief Shawn Donovan and it's five captains. The department currently has 17 paid staff and 35 volunteers.
"I am most certainly delegating roles now and am operating through my captains and the division chief," said Luffman. "We operate in the truest sense as a combination department."
Luffman said he was "humble to a fault".
"I will try with every fiber in my body to be what I need to be in this role for the city and for its citizens," said Luffman.
He said his main goal is to do hazard mitigating for Mt. Juliet and to "enhance services for Mt. Juliet and work with Wilson County."
He noted he is eager to build an "even better relationship with WEMA and help "lighten their load and increase service in Mt. Juliet."
He added now there are two FDMJ stations and great traction for a third station in north Mt. Juliet.
Luffman lauded the department's volunteer department.
"We have an astronomically above-head-and-shoulders volunteer group that we rely on heavily," said Luffman.
Donovan heads that force as division chief. He concurred he met with Luffman Tuesday morning.
"Chief Kinney's leaving was somewhat unexpected and quick," said Donovan. "With Jamie in the new position he will keep us moving forward. We have very experienced personnel in the five captains and myself. We will get together and work as a team and continue to build our department."
He said it was a "new day" and everyone will step up and make things happen.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said he was "sorry to hear of Kinney's resignation."
"He did good work for us," said Hagerty. "Jamie Luffman as interim chief I'm sure he will do a great job and prove himself, so we will see how it goes. The department will do great because it is strong regardless of who leads."
In an interview with The Wilson Post Tuesday, just after his resignation was turned into Mt. Juliet City Hall, Kinney said he "poured my heart and soul" into the FDMJ position and it "breaks my heart to leave and I loved working for the citizens."
Kinney, who played seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans as a tight end from 2000-06, formerly worked for the Williamson County Office of Public Safety as a fire and rescue coordinator.
He has over 20 years experience in fire service.
"I have got some personal and significant demands on my time," he said. "I was immersed the past few months and it pulled me away. I have some family stuff and trying to take care of my home life."
Kinney said his position at FDMJ was his "dream job."
"I had a lot left to do," he said. "And a lot of good plans."
Kinney said he met with Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenneth Martin to tell him he was leaving.
"I told him it was a tough decision," said Kinney. "I had some personal issues and it's an indefinite time-table."
"We are truly grateful for the tremendous job Chief Kinney has done in building Mt. Juliet's first fire department," Martin said. "I have always appreciated his knowledge and professionalism he brought to our community, and his commitment to improving the safety of Mt. Juliet's citizens has prepared us for further achievements in the coming years. I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.