Matt Miller remembers the poem he recited at his pre-school graduation when he was 5 years old. It told of how he would grow up to be a fireman. Many years later, Miller’s poem became reality when he started working for the Roswell Fire Department in 2003.
“So I guess I knew all my life that this is what I would do,” says Miller, who has now been selected as RFD’s new chief. City Manager Joe Neeb made the selection in mid-November after a national search that brought in 21 applicants from across the country.
Miller, who was the only current RFD employee among the applicants, has served as interim chief since Devin Graham retired from the top job at the end of August. Miller spent about 10 years as a firefighter on RFD’s trucks before being promoted to deputy fire marshal in 2012. He says he “fell in love with fire investigations” and in 2015 was promoted again, becoming fire marshal, the post he has held until his appointment as chief.
Now Miller leads the department that currently has a roster of 93 personnel – 79 of them firefighters – with more firefighters expected to be on board in the near future as a recruit academy is preparing to begin.
“RFD is a very special and unique fire department,” Miller says. “The fire service as a whole is unique and special. There is a family bond that cannot be described nor truly understood outside the fire service. RFD is unique in our size. We are a ‘little big department.’” Miller notes RFD’s Engine One is the second busiest firetruck in the state, behind an engine in the Albuquerque Fire Department.
Originally from the Texas panhandle – born in Amarillo and raised in Groom – Miller arrived in Roswell in 1998. He worked as a professional horse trainer and farrier, which is a professional horseshoer, before joining the fire department. Miller is also a bagpiper whose skills have been called on during various RFD ceremonies.
From the initial pool of 21 applicants for the fire chief position, Miller was one of six selected to be interviewed by a panel that included representatives of the city administration and City Council, as well as a member of the fire department. The panel’s recommendation in favor of Miller was unanimous.
“Chief Matt Miller is an individual of exceptional character, a critical thinker and cares passionately about maintaining safety of the community and the department,” says Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb. “I am very excited about having Chief Miller on the city's executive team leading the fire department.”
Miller finds it difficult to point to specific aspects of the job that make firefighting, fire investigations, and now fire department administration, so enjoyable for him.
“I love all of it,” he says. “It’s not always easy and it can be very tough at times, but it is the greatest profession that there is.”