The North Tooele Fire District’s Board of Trustees reached out to Tennessee to find a new chief for the district.
Kevin Nunn, of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, became the North Tooele Fire District chief on April 18.
Born in Indiana, Nunn has worked as a fire-fighter in Tennessee and Colorado before moving to Tooele.
Nunn worked as a full-time firefighter for 14 years in Pigeon Forge, which is at the base of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
Before Pigeon Forge, Nunn was the fire chief for six years at the Seymour Fire Department, also in Tennessee. Before moving to Tennessee, he lived in Colorado where he worked as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years while also working as an electrical engineer.
Nunn became interested in fire fighting after missing the early signs of a fire in a neighborhood church in Indiana.
“One night in Indiana I was walking out of my friend’s house in the middle of the night and I looked across the street at a church. There were clouds of steam billowing off the roof,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, it’s really cold out,’ because it was only nine degrees out, you know? I thought it was just from the cold. I saw the beginning stages of a fire but I didn’t know, because I wasn’t trained. So, I drove home and about three hours later, that church burned down and I was like, “Maybe I could have done something?’ So, I walked into my local volunteer fire department and I said, ‘How could I have changed that?’
Nunn said his move to Tooele County was prompted while browsing fire fighting jobs on the internet.
When he saw the position open at the North Tooele Fire District he thought, “Why not?,” so he applied for the position.
The website posting was part of nationwide search for a new chief by the North Tooele Fire Department’s Board of Trustees.
“We conducted a nationwide search looking for the next fire chief,” said Jon Smith, public information officer at the North Tooele Fire District. “We needed somebody who is functional both operationally; someone who knows both wildland fires, structure fires, as well as equipment and internal operations. On top of all of that, we needed someone who was able to communicate effectively on multiple different levels with multiple different people. Chief Nunn has a big job ahead of him.”
So Nunn packed up his whole life and traveled to Tooele County.
As part of his new job, Nunn will do whatever necessary to provide for the safety of the department. He will also spend time working on obtaining grants, improving daily operations and procedures, completing other administrative duties, and a lot of paperwork.
So far, Nunn has enjoyed his new job and he plans to stay in Tooele County for the long haul.
“The people are amazing,” he said. “To welcome a complete stranger from across the country is amazing. They all have been fantastic.”
Nunn’s favorite thing about being a firefighter is turning chaos into peace.
“Whether it’s a fire, a car wreck, or an incident, being able to take that chaos and turn it into order again is my favorite thing,” Nunn said. “Of course, saving lives and protecting property is all in there but I think my favorite challenge is putting order in chaos.”
The most challenging part of being a firefighter is finding people to volunteer, Nunn said.
“We can train anyone to fight a fire but we can’t train someone to come in off the street and say they want to volunteer,” Nunn explained.
Nunn is 53, married and has two children. One of his sons will graduate from Purdue University in less than a month. His other son is attending school at Middle Tennessee State University.
Nunn’s wife will move to Tooele County once Nunn gets settled.
In his free time, Nunn enjoys hiking and is looking forward to trying out Tooele County’s mountain trails.
“I feel I get my personal satisfaction and energy from seeing mountains above me,” Nunn said.
Each day, Nunn lives by his personal quote, which he teaches to all of the younger firefighters he has trained, “So much of what we do is showing up. If we weren’t there, who would it be?”
Nunn replaces Jay Ziolkowski, a 27-year veteran of the Salt County Fire Department, who has been serving as the interim chief of the North Tooele Fire Department since December 2021.