KFD’s Mindy Myers: Promoted but misses the trucks

Tom KingOur Town Heroes

(Updated to state membership in KPD Critical Incident Team (CIT)

Being a firefighter is not for the faint of heart. Ya gotta love it to do it.

It’s a special person who runs into flames, not the other way. The work is demanding. The training can be worse … especially on hot days.

For 16 years, Rushie Lee Melinda Myers has been battling fires, driving Knoxville Fire Department engines, helping work vehicle accidents, wherever, whenever and doing everything the right way as an emergency first responder.

Capt. Mindy Myers

No one calls her Rushie or Lee or Melinda. It’s Mindy and this 5-2 woman has no trouble jumping in and out of and off engines and doing the job wearing approximately 60 pounds of turnout gear. And maybe a bit more. “So, 60 to 70 pounds depending on what’s in your pockets! I have a few extra tools to help get me out of a pickle.”

She’s not on the engines or working at a fire station these days. And she misses it. Last February, Chief Stan Sharp promoted Myers to the rank of captain. She is one of only 15 women KFD firefighters and today she is a fire inspector in the KFD Fire Marshal’s Office.

Myers is 48 and she’s all in for this career. “One hundred percent this is my only career. There is nothing I do not enjoy about any aspect or assignment I’m given. Now that I am in inspections I’m learning more and more about the job and I love acquiring knowledge.”

She is the only child of her parents – LeeRoy and Barbara Myers. Her father worked for many years in the city of Knoxville machine shop and her mother was a secretary for many years at the UT College of Agriculture. They are a Fountain City family and still live in the same house on Shamrock Avenue where she was reared. Myers went to Shannondale Elementary School, Gresham Middle and Central High School, class of 1993.

KFD, she says, has been “a super fit for me to a tee. I enjoy dealing with people, with anyone. I have tattoos on my left foot of two chameleons and they represent how people are different and change. I get along with everybody. I’m not afraid of anything and I love to problem solve.”

And she adds this: “I really do a good job of keeping my wits about me and that’s important in this profession.”

In addition to her firefighting skills, she also is a member of:

  • the Swiftwater Rescue Team
  • the Technical Rescue Team
  • the Hazardous Materials Team and was the first KFD female to earn the Hazardous Materials Specialist certification.
  • Knoxville Police Department CIT (Critical Incident Team)

Instead of knocking down fires, she’s now concentrating on preventing them as a fire inspector on Asst. Chief Sonny Partin’s team. The city has seven inspection districts and the responsibility is heavy. “We do about two or three inspections a day and I’m still learning on the job, learning the system, the codes and the new construction rules and regulations,” Myers said.

She enjoys this new phase of her career, but says candidly: “I want to get back to a station, 100%. I miss running calls and being on the truck. I miss the fire truck itself. I love driving them. It’s fun. I feel disconnected right now. And I know that my time is flying by. We’ve lost a lot of the traditions in the stations that affect relationships. At most stations we have independent bedrooms now and we’re more isolated. I like sitting around and talking, eating together, playing cards, watching movies together. Sitting down at the table has gone away.”

She describes herself as “an outdoorsy type.” Really? She has a big Harley Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle and a mountain bike; she loves to hike and plays slow-pitch softball regularly; she shoots guns and loves to kayak “anywhere and everywhere.”

And what about that name – Rushie Lee Melinda Myers?

“My mother told me that she had a major dream before I was born that she had a daughter named Mindy. Mom and Dad had already decided I would be named after my grandmother (mother’s side, deceased) Rushie Lee. Mom didn’t think Rushie Lee Mindy Myers sounded very good so she came up with Melinda as a middle name and would call me Mindy!”

Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *