Murfreesboro's Kay Jernigan makes history as first woman to achieve top firefighter certification

Mar 09, 2018 at 02:00 pm by Voice Wire

Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Kaye Jernigan made history Friday, March 2 when she became the first woman in Tennessee’s history to achieve the Fire Officer IV certification.  

The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office Fire Officer IV certification is the highest level of fire officer training available to Tennessee firefighters.

“It is very humbling to be the first female in the state to have obtained FOIV certification,” said Jernigan. “The course, while challenging, was definitely a great learning experience, and I am thankful to have been a part of the pilot class in Tennessee.”

Jernigan, 52, is a native of Murfreesboro and has served with Murfreesboro Fire Rescue since 1988. She became the first female captain at the department in 1996 and the first female assistant chief in 2011.

Only 14 Tennessee firefighters have previously reached FOIV certification; however, those certifications were mainly obtained through reciprocity between Tennessee and other states. The graduation of the fire academy’s first FOIV class marks a new level of training and professional development for Tennessee firefighters.

“These graduates have shown they have the dedication, commitment, and knowledge necessary to be the great leaders their communities deserve,” said Tennessee Fire Marshal and Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “I extend my warmest wishes to all the graduating members of the class, and I commend Assistant Chief Jernigan who is setting a positive example for women in the Tennessee fire service.”

Students who pass the FOIV certification tests have the necessary qualifications needed to serve in a fire department’s senior-level positions such as a supervisor or a chief.

The FOIV tests are certified by the Tennessee Firefighting Personnel Standards & Education Commission which is accredited by both the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and the Pro Board Fire Service Professional Qualifications System (PROBOARD).

The accreditation verifies that anyone earning this level of certification has met the required training, education, and skills proficiency that meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 1021, chapter 7 objectives.

Jernigan has an Associates’ Degree in Fire Science from Volunteer State University and a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies with a minor in Public Administration from Middle Tennessee State University. The State Fire Marshal’s Office estimates there are currently about 800 female firefighters out of over 22,400 firefighters currently serving in Tennessee. 

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