KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — A local volunteer fire chief leads by example. So, it was no surprise when Ben Wexler of the Warrior’s Path Volunteer Fire Department received a huge honor from the state.

Volunteer firefighter Doug Smith was not surprised when his chief was named Tennessee Fire Chief of the Year.

“It’s exciting, to say the least,” he said. “It’s never, never a dull moment. We always find things to do. There’s always, always interest in the community. There’s always different activities that we’re doing. Obviously, all types of training that we’re doing all the time, too.”

Smith says Chief Wexler’s commitment to the community also comes with the challenge of being a volunteer organization.

“We’re always doing fundraisers, trying to just solve that problem and solve that issue that we have, just trying to make it all work,” Smith said. “He does an excellent job at keeping it going.”

Chief Wexler said he knows volunteer fire departments are a crucial part of the community.

Chief Wexler speaking about volunteer fire departments with News Channel 11.

“If it wasn’t for volunteers in the rural parts of our coverage areas and for the county, or really East Tennessee, we would have no fire protection,” he said. “So it’s extremely important to have members that are driven and want to be here and participate, that actively runs calls and contributes to the safety of our communities.”

Chief Wexler’s team says he makes sure they are visible all the time, not just during a fire call.

“He makes the department better,” Smith said. “Big, big concern with the community that he keeps [his] number one as the community, as well as the fire department itself; always looking out for the fire department, involved in several different associations in the area and the community and the neighborhood.”

Those around him call Ben Wexler a role model to his fellow firefighters, making his community a better place.