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50 years: Kentucky firefighter celebrates longest career in the county

He began as a volunteer, waiting 20 years for a spot. Then, he served for 20 years. After he retired on Friday, he showed up on Monday, ready to volunteer again.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ky. — After a 20-year career serving his community, preceded by decades of volunteering, firefighter Jack Miller retired from the Buechel Fire Department in 2010 on a Friday.

On the following Monday, he showed back up at work to continue his career as a volunteer.

Miller is the longest-serving firefighter in the county, celebrating fifty years of serving, teaching, and saving lives.

"When I turned 16, that's one of the first things I wanted to do, was join the fire department," said now Deputy Chief Jack Miller. "Back then, we weren't riding in the cabs. You just held on... and your buddies held you on."

From his buddies holding him on the truck at 16 to his fellow firefighters holding him on the service, Deputy Chief Miller can't seem to let go of fighting fires.

"It's something you like to do," Deputy Chief Miller said when asked if he feels like a hero. "If you like to do something, I enjoy it, it's fun. I do not feel like a hero."

Credit: WHAS11

He started as a volunteer, patiently waiting for a spot to open up within the department. That wait lasted 20 years.

Jack Miller's father was chief for 32 years, leaving him the legacy, skills and tools he would need for the most memorable fire of his life.

"I had a sergeant with me driving the truck, another firefighter," he said beginning the story. "We had a report of a rescue on the second floor and we start crawling through. We end up pulling out two babies from this apartment, and to my knowledge, everything was fine once we got them out. We turned them over to EMS at that time and everything worked out well. We were just in the right place at the right time."

A humble way to end a story - from a man many in the department describe with that same word.

Credit: WHAS11

With a career spanning decades, many of those people around him learned much of what they know from him.

"There's a lot of people that are around here that were firefighters around me and I feel privileged to bring them up," Miller said, getting a little misty at the thought of all the lives he's touched.

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Playing his career close to the chest, the Deputy Chief won't tell us how many more years he plans on fighting fires.

"I don't know," he said with a shrug. "Chief says as long as I want to stay, I can and as long as my health holds out, I can." He then added that he just renewed his EMT Certificate, so he has at least two more years.

Credit: WHAS11

The message Jack Miller tells everyone within the department is one of continued openness in your career and in your life.

"Learn all you can," he said. "You can't learn enough. Listen and train."

He also added this career is made easier by the love and support of his awesome wife.

Deputy Chief Miller's 50-year anniversary party is going to be celebrated this weekend.

Contact reporter Hayley Minogue at hminogue@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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