By Michael R. Moser
Forty years ago the Tennessee Valley Authority teamed up with the Cumberland County Court (now called commission) to develop the first county-wide fire department in Tennessee. TVA was so proud of the result that a promotional video was made to be shared with other communities wanting to follow suit.
Saturday night members of the Cumberland County Fire Department gathered for the 33rd annual banquet to recognize milestones, top responders, children making fire safety posters and this year, to observe its 40th year in business.
"The seeds were really planted in 1973," CCFD/EMS Director Jeff Dodson said Saturday night. "But we actually had manpower and equipment, boots on the ground, in January of 1984."
Three of the firefighters who were part of that first year's group of "Minutemen," as they were called by TVA, were in attendance at the banquet this year and are still active in the department. Dodson, Assistant Chief John Hall and volunteer Tommy Button represent 120 years of fire service to the county.
Attendees were treated to a viewing of the vintage promotional film made by TVA, which was followed by a film that brought up-to-date highlights from the past 40 years.
In recognition of the members of the county court and TVA that partnered to form the department, County Historian Barbara Parsons is completing a book detailing the history of the department, with proceeds after printing costs to go to the fire department. She is hoping to secure a corporate sponsor for the publication costs so that more funds can be donated.
Persons wishing to pre-order a history book of the county fire department may do so by calling the fire department office at 484-8448.
Dodson, in his annual address, told a large gathering of over 300 firefighters, family members and guests, that a new unit 1 had been purchased and another unit bid out. A fire department addition at the main station is now under way, with excavation already begun.
For the second year in a row, fire department responses were down. This past year, the department was called out 1,051 times, with the highest category of calls being property damage vehicle wrecks at 202. There were 170 vehicle crashes involving injuries, and the department responded to 119 unintentional false reports. The department responded to 55 controlled burns and 53 structure fires.
Top responders recognized this year were James Threet at 287; Rick LaRue at 177; Chris Lawson at 164; Dalton Delk at 159; and Jason Albert at 158.
Top district responders were as follows: Central District, Jeremy DeRossett, 116; District 3-Homestead, Jeremy Mangas, 77; District 3-Alloway, Joey Grogan, 40; District 4-Genesis, David Morgan, 69; District 4-Peavine, Chris Jenkins, 119; District 5-Midway, Randall Dye, 45; District 5-Big Lick, Tim Tutor, 48; District 6-Crab Orchard, A.J. Benson, 84; District 6-Westel, Derek Carter, 64; District 6-Hebbertsburg, Byran Edmonds, 21; District 7, Plateau, Matt Atkinson, 55; District 7-Rinnie, Brandy Swanson, 43; District 7-Mayland, Roy Turner, 19; District 8-Pleasant Hill, Gerald Kutchey and Adams Owens, 47 each; and District 8-Taylor's Chapel, Nick Warner, 41.
Recognized for years of service were: Terry Carter, 35 years; Robert May, 25 years; Hope Parsons and Brian Matthews, 15 years; J.D. Dyer, Joe Hasley, David Patterson, John Paul Pennington, Dale Dyer and Jake DeRossett, ten years; and Matt Mathis, Kevin Honeycutt, John Stubbs, David Kennedy, Nich Findley, Jeff Connell, Mark Steinman, Gary Blaylock Jr., Chris Long, Craig Brown, Rocky Dennis, Josh Ireland and Russell Williams, five years.
Poster contest winners were also recognized. There were 245 posters submitted to the contest this past year. No posters were entered by high school students this year.
Winners recognized were: Katie Phillips, Christian Academy of the Cumberlands, kindergarden; Ayden Hudgens, Brown Elementary, first grade; Jasmine Barker, Crab Orchard Elementary, second grade; Haley Suggs, Christian Academy, third grade; Angelina Grace Lawrence, Christian Academy, fourth grade; Buttons Cole, Martin Elementary, fifth grade; Riannon Sexton, Homestead Elementary, sixth grade; Lindsey Ford, Pleasant Hill Elementary, seventh grade; and Callie Piper, Pleasant Hill, eighth grade.