Miller named SMP fire district boss
Interim Fire District Coordinator Brody Miller has been appointed to the position on a permanent basis.
Miller, who was the parish training officer when Brian Castille resigned as coordinator in May, was named to replace Castille on an interim basis.
The Parish Council offered Miller the permanent appointment at its Oct. 16 meeting and he accepted at an annual salary in the mid-$50,000 range.
The offer was the result of a marked recovery in sagging morale and effectiveness since Miller took over. Falling volunteer numbers and resignations amid complaints about training and the condition of equipment in recent years had left some departments dangerously short handed.
Parish President Chester Cedars, who was a volunteer fireman in Breaux Bridge for 28 years, said the district has bounced back at a surprising rate. “I don’t think the fire district has ever been this strong,” Cedars said. Several council members, including Dist. 1 representative and long-time volunteer firefighter Byron Fuselier, also praised Miller’s accomplishments during his stint as interim coordinator.
Miller first served as a volunteer in the Parks Fire Department, then accepted a position as training officer with the Iberia Parish Fire District. After holding that job for seven years he moved to the St. Martin District as training officer.
Despite accolades from parish officials, Miller told the Teche News he takes a limited amount of credit for the improvement in morale. He said changes already in progress account for most of that, but says improved relations with volunteers, better training, and equipment that is in good enough condition to allow firefighters to perform their tasks effectively and safely has a lot to do with the improvement in recruiting.
As coordinator, Miller says he will continue to seek ways to keep the positive trends on track. “Getting our fire ratings as high as we can will mean lower insurance premiums for parish residents. That is very important to us,” he says. “We continue to install fire alarms for residents who need that service and conduct fire prevention programs in schools. And we want to make our district’s training program the best in the state.”