Even as a teenager, St. Cloud-native Jason Miller knew he wanted to be a firefighter. While still in high school, he began serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Deer Run Volunteer Fire Department, all the while with his eye on becoming a full-time firefighte8r for the City of St. Cloud.
This week, after a 23-year career with St. Cloud Fire Rescue, Miller realized his lifelong dream as he was named Fire Chief during a promotion ceremony held Wednesday night.
“I’m humbled to be chosen to lead St. Cloud Fire Rescue,” Miller said. “The men and women of this department are among the best in the business, and it is an honor to serve as their leader. This has been a lifelong dream for me, and I’m honored to serve the citizens of St. Cloud. This is my hometown, and it means a lot to me.”
Chief Miller came to work for St. Cloud Fire Rescue in 1997 as a Firefighter/EMT. He recalls 1998 being an impactful year in his career, as he was one of the first to arrive on-scene at the Ponderosa RV Park, which was devastated by an F3 tornado during what came to be called The Night of the Tornadoes. During a two-hour period overnight that February, tornadoes tore through Central Florida, leaving 42 people dead and damaging or destroying more than 2,400 homes and businesses. Ten of those deaths were in St. Cloud at the Ponderosa RV Park. That same year, he fought wildfires locally and on state deployments, and assisted with evacuations due to flooding.
In 2001, he became the Treasurer of the St. Cloud Professional Firefighters Local 4153, a role he served for seven years. He received his Paramedic Certification in 2002 and was promoted to Fire Engineer in 2008. From there, Chief Miller rose through the ranks, becoming a Lieutenant in 2012, Battalion Chief in 2013, and Deputy Fire Chief in 2014.
In his most recent role as Deputy Chief of Operations, Miller has overseen the delivery of emergent and non-emergent services for the past six years. An analytical and strategic thinker, Chief Miller has worked on the creation and implementation of several Department Strategic Plans. Working to implement the Department’s goals, he assisted in grant writing that enabled the city to hire six additional firefighters. He also worked with the City Manager and his team to formalize agreements to secure strategic sites for future fire station locations.
Miller, his wife, and two children continue to live in St. Cloud, and he says he looks forward to continuing to serve the City for many more years.
Miller replaces former Chief Joe Silvestris, who resigned in September.
Also on Wednesday night, the Department promoted several employees:
· Alicia Weaver, promoted to Assistant Chief
· Robert Wise, promoted to Lieutenant
· David Miller, promoted to Lieutenant
· Alex McCrystal, promoted to Engineer
· Craig Bronson, promoted to Engineer
· Christina O’Rourke, who joined SCFR in August, was sworn in as Fire Inspector.
The ceremony was held at the St. Cloud Community Center.