Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley to transition from servant to teacher after 43 years

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (Aug. 12, 2020) – After 43 years of active fire service with four different fire departments and 22 years serving as a Fire Chief for three of those departments, Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley is hanging up his fire service career to become a full-time Fire Service Instructor and Coordinator for the State of Tennessee.

Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, will be a twofold milestone for Kerley. It will be the last day of his 6-year appointment to the Tennessee Commission on Firefighter Standards and Education and will be his last day as Fire Chief for the City of Oak Ridge.

“Serving as Fire Chief for the important and historical City of Oak Ridge and being appointed to the Fire Commission by Governor Bill Haslam have been the highlights of my professional career. It truly has been an honor and privilege to serve as Fire Chief of such a great city and to be part of the development of the National Park at the K-25 site and the K-25 History Center,” said Chief Kerley. “This is one of the finest fire departments I’ve ever been associated with and has some of the best-trained people in the State of Tennessee.”

Kerley began his career in 1978 working as a construction inspector for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Materials Engineering Laboratory in Louisville, Tennessee. While working full time, he completed the Rural/Metro Fire Department recruit training and began working 24-hour shifts on his days off from TVA.

In 1982, Kerley and his family moved to Seymour, Tennessee, where he began his 30-year career with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department. During that time, he served in several roles including Assistant Fire Chief for six years and Fire Chief for three. He also spent nine years as an adjunct Fire Service Instructor with the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy, three years as a field services manager at Singleton Laboratory, and nine years as an office manager with Batson, Himes Norvell & Poe, Engineers & Land Surveyors.

Kerley became a Fire Protection Specialist with the K-25 Fire Department in 2001, serving as the K-25 Fire Chief from 2003 to 2006 before transferring to the City of Oak Ridge Fire Department (ORFD).

In 2006, he began his role as Fire Projects Manager with ORFD to plan and execute the transition of the Department of Energy (DOE) Fire Department located at the East Tennessee Technology Park into the City of Oak Ridge as a municipal fire station.

Kerley moved his way up, serving as Deputy Fire Chief from 2008 to 2011 before being promoted to Fire Chief.

As Chief, he replaced four Class A fire engines, remodeled three fire stations and wrote three successful Assistance to Firefighter Grants.

“Chief Kerley has actively served the City of Oak Ridge as our Fire Chief since September 2011. His fire knowledge and practical experience have led the community well by achieving significant recognition throughout Tennessee. I would particularly point to his upgrading of all City fire facilities and obtaining the latest equipment and training,” said Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson. “Achieving the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) rating of two put the City of Oak Ridge in elite company to be among the ‘best of the best’ fire departments in Tennessee. After 43 years of active fire service, we thank him and applaud him taking the next chapter in his career, which will share this knowledge with current and future generations.”

The State of Tennessee will greatly benefit from Kerley’s many years of experience and certifications, including his designation as Chief Fire Officer (CFO) and Chief Training Officer (CTO) by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

“Next Monday, I will transition from servant to teacher as I begin to share my years of experience with our state’s firefighters. I have always been passionate about training and believe that a trained firefighter is a safe firefighter,” said Kerley.

The City of Oak Ridge Fire Department will be led by Fire Marshal Travis Solomon, who will assume the Interim Chief duties effective Aug. 22, 2020.