It is with great sadness that the officers and members of the Jacksonville Retired Firefighters Association announce the passing of retired
Battalion Chief Miles R. Bowers on January 09, 2018.
Chief Bowers’ viewing was at 5 p.m. Friday January 12, 2018 at North Jacksonville Baptist Church at 8531 N. Main St., with the funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times Union writes:
Miles Richard Bowers’ first job as a firefighter in 1948 was to help tackle one of Jacksonville’s worst fires at a paint factory.
One of his last jobs was in 2003 when he was named the city’s fire chief for the second time. He had previously led the department from 1984 to 1988.
Bowers, who served longer than any other firefighter on the force, died Tuesday after a stroke. He was 91.
His son, Rick Bowers, became a firefighter like his father and remembers how “everyone who knew him, loved him.”
“But he loved the fire department. It was not just a job, it was a passion,” his son said. “He wanted to serve. He wanted to make it better. … He even invented a few tools when he was in the shop to make things easier. He ate, lived and breathed fire department.”
Mr. Bowers was chief when he hired new firefighter Randy Wyse, now president of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters. They went to church together as well, and Wyse said he will miss his friend who led Jacksonville Fire and Rescue in difficult times after grand jury and mayoral commission reports criticized the department’s management, training and planning.
“He was a fine man, no doubt about that. His son was a firefighter, and his daughter and I grew up together,” Wyse said. “… He was there when there was the grand jury and he stood us through that.”
Born in Hampton. S.C., his family moved to Jacksonville when his father began working at the Ford Model A plant that still exists at the downtown base of the Mathews Bridge. A Jackson High School graduate, he went straight into the Air Force and flew B-
In a 2005 Times-
“Private, engineer, lieutenant, captain, district chief, battalion chief, chief — I’ve done ‘em all,” he said in that 2005 interview, adding that he worked at every station at one time or another.
One of the worst fires he fought was his first, at an old Glidden paint factory on the Northside.
“I was new — it was a 10-
Former Mayor Jake Godbold chose him to take over the fire department Oct. 8, 1984, replacing Irvin Griffin, who was forced to retire after the critical reports came out.
One of 62 applicants, Mr. Bowers said at the time that he did not actively seek the job. But firefighters called him a “down-
Mr. Bowers served the end of his 57-
Mr. Bowers leaves behind his wife, Nancy, daughter April, son Rick and a granddaughter. He was predeceased by his first wife, Betty Jean.
Jacksonville Fire Engine 122 will be his funeral caisson with an honor guard since he was “the chief of the department,” Wyse said.