1744 E. Emory Road. To some this address is just another local successful business in the heart of Powell, but to Jeff Bagwell that address represents the origin of his long and memorable career.
For Jeff, it started in 1971 with the TV series Emergency, watching John and Roy and the 51-house race down the streets of LA putting their lives on the line to save people during emergencies. Jeff admired that. He had a love for his community and was eager to help.
Jeff started at the old Rural Metro Station No. 31 located at 1744 E. Emory Rd. as an explorer in his early teens. As an explorer, he was able to learn about firefighting before he was a firefighter. Once he graduated from Clinton High School, Jeff attended a fire academy and continued to stay at Rural Metro in both part- and full-time roles.
He also enrolled at the University of Tennessee, and was a volunteer at Claxton VFD, where he grew up. He then branched out to other communities such as Knox County EMS, Andersonville, Clinton and Anderson County EMS & Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Jeff acquired his paramedic license in 1987. He then worked at Rural Metro full time until he departed for new beginnings at Y-12 Fire Department in the 1990s. He then moved to a different role, in late 1999, selling fire trucks locally for Ferrara Fire Apparatus which is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Jeff was an eager salesperson and learned his away around the state, stopping at every fire department – 637 to be exact. Jeff finally decided it was time to return and serve his Powell community in 2011, at the new Station 31 on Old Clinton Pike.
Jeff progressed through the ranks as firefighter to lieutenant to captain, until he was promoted to public information officer in 2016. There, he transitioned from a roaring fire apparatus to the office. His job now was to communicate with the public, media and/or coordinating with other agencies, as necessary, with incident-related information. Jeff took his position a step further, by being involved with public affairs, and making sure that Rural Metro was involved with the community, and that the community was involved with Rural Metro.
Jeff found other ways to serve by joining the Powell Business & Professional Association (PBPA) where he currently serves as the president. The group promotes events and the businesses in Powell. He also serves on the board of directors at Tennova North hospital.
You won’t always find Jeff on the news talking about a large fire or catastrophic event, but you might find him on his days off out serving his community.
Today, Jeff lives in Powell with wife Renee. Their son is Logan, who started his career as a firefighter a year ago and works at the Powell station.
For Jeff Bagwell, Powell means a little more than home – it’s his place of origin. Powell planted a seed in Jeff’s heart in 1980 and it never stopped growing. Thank you, Jeff, for your continued dedication to the Powell Community.
These remarks were read by Dr. Donald Wegener when he presented Business Person of the Year honors to Jeff Bagwell at the 2024 PBPA banquet.