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First female graduates from Fire Officer IV certification class

  kaye jernigan
Kaye Jernigan, first female graduate of Fire Officer IV certification class. Image courtesy of SFMO

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) congratulated members of its inaugural Fire Officer IV (FOIV) certification class, the highest level of fire officer training available to Tennessee firefighters. The history-making class at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy includes Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Kaye Jernigan. Jernigan graduated from the class on Friday, March 2, 2018, making her the first woman in Tennessee’s history to achieve the FOIV certification.

Fourteen 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, 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.

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.

“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.”

For firefighters interested in participating in future FOIV classes, please contact the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle at (931) 294-4111 or by email at

Published March 13, 2018

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