By Ben Lawson
As a full time firefighter and EMT, Kevin Nunn, an assistant chief with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department, rarely finds a quiet moment. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Originally from Indiana, Nunn recalled seeing what he thought was steam rising off a church at 1 a.m. In reality, it was a fire and by morning the church was gone. It was then that he decided to get the education necessary to prevent that from happening again and joined a volunteer fire department. Although he also has a degree in electrical engineering, Nunn had found his calling.
He spent four years as a firefighter in Colorado before moving to Seymour to be closer to his wife’s family. He became an EMT in 1991 and now works full time for the Pigeon Forge Fire Department, volunteers with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department and also works for Dollywood’s safety office.
“An eight-to-five job is not for me,” he said.
With the huge variety of calls an average day can bring, firefighters are crossed trained to account for all possibilities. From the time a recruit joins the department until they are ready to fight a fire can be two years, depending on how much time the person has to put into it. This includes a 64 hour class just for fighting fires, 300 more hours to cover other aspects of the job and a further 240 for those who become EMTs.
“A firefighter receives some type of training every day,” he said.
It takes a dedicated individual to work through that amount of training, which is why Nunn praises firefighters like John Perry, who was already hanging around the department learning as much as he could before he was old enough to join. Nunn would like to see more recruits with an interest get a jump on it in high school.
Nunn himself teaches new recruits in addition to providing wild land fire training in Oak Ridge, which he specializes in. All the training pays off, he said, in moments such as the near drowning of a child in Pigeon Forge recently. Being able to bring someone back from the brink is what he lives for.
“A typical day for a firefighter is nonstop,” he said.
Some days are worse than others, such as a terrible three car accident more than a year ago that left three people dead. He recalled the feeling of pulling a now-orphaned five-year-old girl from the wreck. Days like those can define a person.
“Firefighting is not a job,” Nunn said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
Firefighting a Lifestyle
By Ben Lawson