Blake Duerler was sworn in Wednesday, September 30, 2015 as the newest volunteer Smith County Deputy Fire Marshal.
The 26-year-old will follow in the footsteps of several Smith County Fire Marshals who started their careers as volunteers with the department.
Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks volunteered as a deputy for nearly eight years before becoming the fire marshal last year. The county’s first and second fire marshals, Charles Shine and Jim Seaton, also served as volunteers. First Assistant Fire Marshall Oren Hale, Deputy Fire Marshall Eric Lowry and Smith County Sheriff’s Environmental Crimes Investigator Mike Burton all started their careers as volunteer deputy fire marshals in Smith County.
“It’s a good training program for the office,” Brooks said. “It allows real-world experience. There are very few education programs where you can get this experience.”
Duerler will keep his full-time job and will be “on call” for large, complex fire scenes or other events, when it is good to have as many people working as possible, Brooks said.
Brooks said Duerler is a good fit for the position because he is a certified peace officer with in-depth knowledge about alarm systems.
Duerler grew up in Beaumont and played baseball for Tyler Junior College, Texas College and Lamar University before an injury ended his playing career. Throughout college, he worked for Advanced Systems Alarm Services, owned by his father, designing fire alarm and special hazard suppression systems. Duerler said his father, Dwayne Duerler Jr., is a big role model in his life and played a part in his decision to serve as a deputy fire marshal. His dad, who attended his swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, was a deputy sheriff in Jefferson County for 15 years, a deputy constable in Angelina County for 15 years and served in the Navy Reserves for 19 years.
Duerler earned a business degree from Lamar University and graduated from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Academy in 2013. He moved back to Tyler after college and worked for Raving Fan Technologies before taking his current job as a fire alarm project engineer for Honeywell Process Solutions.
Although it is nothing for him to work 40 to 60 hours a week at his paying job, which also requires a lot of traveling, Duerler is excited to start volunteering for the Fire Marshal’s Office.
“I’ll do as I’m told,” he said of how many hours he will volunteer.
Duerler said he is certified in fire protection and knows the fire code so he feels he is a good fit for the position. He said it has always been important in his line of work to have a good relationship with the Fire Marshal’s Office, which expands their growth and knowledge and makes their job easier.