From Oklahoma to Cedar Fort fire chief PDF | Print | E-mail

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CHARLYNN ANDERSON - North County Staff
As a little boy growing up in Okmulgee, Okla., Don Miller dreamed of being a fireman someday.

But he never dreamed he would one day be a fire chief in Cedar Fort, Utah.

Miller was elected to be Cedar Fort fire chief in March at a special fire department election to replace Mike Penovich. Penovich resigned from the position to become the Saratoga Springs fire chief.

Miller grew up on a ranch helping his father raise quarter horses. He graduated from Raymond Central Junior/Senior High School in Okmulgee in a graduating class of only 20 students. On a trip to see his sister in California, Miller visited Utah and decided to move here.

He attended the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy and graduated with his fire certification and also qualified to be a firefighter instructor. He worked as a professional firefighter and emergency responder with the South Salt Lake Fire Department.

After nine years in the South Salt Lake Fire Department, Miller said he got "burned out." The physical and emotional stress of his job pushed him to walk away from his chosen profession for a time.

He and his wife, Lanae, and their two sons moved to White Hills in Cedar Valley so that Miller could train horses at White Dove Stables. At a July 24th Rodeo in Cedar Fort, he aided an injured bull rider until members of the Cedar Fort EMS team arrived at the scene. The responders recognized Miller's expertise and invited him to join the department.

"That was the furthest thing from my mind at the time," Miller said. "I'd been out of service for almost 12 years."

Another accident changed his mind, however. A horse stepped on his wife's hand and a Cedar Fort EMS member responded.

After helping again, Miller said, "Okay, give me a pager. You guys need the help."

Miller has served with the Cedar Fort Fire Department for three years and was elected to serve as fire captain and then emergency medical service coordinator before his recent election to be fire chief.

"He's very knowledgeable and has done a lot," said Julie Mohler, who replaced Miller as EMS Captain.

The department presently consists of 20 firefighters who work at their regular jobs and sacrifice their leisure time to attend training sessions and be on call for emergencies.

Miller manages a wholesale lumberyard in Salt Lake City. He has had to re-certify on his training and is currently working on his EMT Intermediate certification.

The Cedar Fort Fire Department has members from Cedar Fort, White Hills and Fairfield, the three communities it serves. Its the member volunteers that make working as a fire chief easier according to Miller.

"The nice thing about being chief is the people I have volunteering with me," he said. "I appreciate that they're willing to do this. It makes my job a whole lot easier."