Chief Joel Miller, also more commonly known as Chief Miller, is a well-known fixture in the social media realm which caters to firefighters. He has many irons in the fire that keeps his days pretty full. He is an active duty Fire Chief in the great state of Louisiana, runs the largest fire Instagram page in the world, is a Fire Department social media consultant, and owns Chief Miller apparel where you can get can get some cool firefighter t-shirts, hats and other apparel.
We got the chance to catch up with him to ask him some of our more burning questions about what he does, how he got started and any advice he has for those looking to the fire service.
HAIX: How did you get started in the fire service?
Chief Miller: As soon as I turned 18, I joined the local volunteer fire department as a volunteer firefighter. I started taking classes, and I was hooked. The rest is history.
HAIX: Chief Miller, what made you want to become a firefighter?
Chief Miller: I rode in a firetruck when I was about 10 years old and I think that planted a seed. Once I graduated high school, I knew this was the career for me, so I started college for Fire Science. I have always heard it said that it is in our blood and takes a special kind to do this job. It’s true.
HAIX: How did your social media persona, Chief Miller, come to be?
Chief Miller: I started with an Instagram page @chief_miller. I started posting pictures of everything that I thought was interesting, and soon others started following. I would post a few fire pictures of mine and people loved it. Soon, people were asking me to post their fire pictures and that grew to 50 to 100 pictures a day. I love viewing and sharing others’ photos. It’s a brotherhood-camaraderie thing. Firefighters really aren’t that different all around the world.
HAIX: What’s the average day look like for you?
Chief Miller: I work a 60-hour work week with 9-hour days and one 24 hour shift a week as Chief. This is a normal shift for a Federal Government Fire Chief. My evenings and weekends are social media. I also work filling orders from www.chiefmillerapparel.com. I truly enjoy interacting with my followers and this is just one way I can continue to do that. I am also currently remodeling a house, so I definitely understand a busy schedule.
HAIX: That being said, do you have any time leftover for hobbies?
Chief Miller: I truly enjoy riding dirt bikes with my son. I grew up riding dirt bikes and when my son bought a dirt bike a couple years back, I caught the fever again and started riding with him. We are lucky. We have several riding trails here and live near a National Forest.
HAIX: How long have you been a firefighter?
Chief Miller: I have been in the fire service for 30 years. I actually stepped away from the fire service for a few years to pursue other things, but I came back to what I love. Guess it really is in your blood.
HAIX: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in your years as a firefighter.
Chief Miller: In the fire service, you always think nothing can top that crazy call, but there is always another one that comes along. I would have to say some of the craziest things we see are from car accidents. Sometimes you just stand back and stare at the scene, scratch your head, and wonder how in the world did this one happen? There is always a story.
HAIX: What’s the coolest fire station that you have visited?
Chief Miller: I love the old stations because they are rich with history. I have visited so many stations I’m not sure I can name just one, but there are a couple in Detroit and St Louis that stand out in my mind.
HAIX: What advice do you have for anyone that may want to become a firefighter some day?
Chief Miller: Train hard and never give up. This is an amazing job and you can have an amazing career with a bunch of strangers that become your family. There is no job on Earth like being a firefighter.
HAIX: How has the pandemic changed your day-to-day life?
Chief Miller: I am thankful that I work in a field where I was able to keep my job during these difficult times. Many trade shows have been cancelled, so I miss getting to see the new product and equipment, but mostly I miss seeing friends and familiar faces from around work that also share a love of the fire service. It has affected many departments because of less training together and even less runs together.
Here in Louisiana, we have been challenged, not only with COvid-19, but my area has been hit with 6 hurricanes this season. Two were direct hits, with Hurricane Laura having the worst winds from a hurricane to affect this state so far inland for the last 160 years. People were still trying to recover from Hurricane Laura and then Hurricane Delta hit. With damage from these hurricanes and trying to stay healthy through a pandemic, 2020 has definitely been a year of challenges. Let’s hope 2021 can bring some relief.
Chief Miller has been a HAIX fan for many years and currently wears our Airpower XR1 on the job. Stay tuned to @Chief_Miller on Instagram for exclusive HAIX giveaways, deals and more!