Boyle Fire Department turns 50

December 06, 2004|EMILY BURTON

It may be turning 50, but don't pass the Geritol just yet. The Boyle County Fire Department is older but wiser after a half-century of service in the community, a fact celebrated Saturday at Centenary Christian Life Center.

"It's been a good run. It's not over yet," said Chief Bud Sexton, who was also celebrating 50 years in the field. Since becoming a fire volunteer in 1954, Sexton said he had witnessed changes in the various departments he has served, such as the switch from cotton fire gear to fireproof Nomex.

"Everything's changed drastically," said Sexton. When he first became a fireman, Sexton said he "worked eight to 10 hours a day, then we'd come into the fire station two or three nights a week." Most of a department's equipment was made from scratch or rebuilt from old parts.

"We didn't have money like we do now to buy things," said Sexton, who joined the Boyle department in 1988.


But Boyle County fire trustees managed to purchase a fire truck in the first year of operation, a 1954 Segraves that "wouldn't hardly start in cold weather. It's old like me," said a 32-year veteran of the field, Melvin Baker, now with Engine 5.

When Baker first joined the department, it was "a block building with holes," but "we built the new building ourselves, a long time ago," he said.

A brief brush with Hollywood

The Boyle County Fire Department has a long history of teamwork and even a brief brush with Hollywood, said John Feather in his presentation during the recognition and awards ceremony.

The department was established in 1954 after two previous attempts. Before its organization, the city would answer county calls.

But often rural communities battled blazes on their own, said Sexton. "You did what you could to put it out, and if you couldn't put it out you just let it burn."

The county's first Segraves engine, which it still displays, cost approximately $3,700. The first fire chief was Albert Mann. The department has since grown to 23 vehicles and has gone through 12 fire chiefs.

In 1978, the department was made famous in Disney's made-for-T.V. movie, "Child of Glass." Filmed on Harrodsburg Road, the department controlled a barn-burning. As they picked through the rubble in the background the next morning, the acting skills of the firefighters far outshone those of the main characters.

"The food was really good, the money was really good, too," said Feather.

Judge-executive Tony Wilder praised the department not for its acting but for its dedication to the community. "We've got a lot to be proud of in this community ... Most of the general public don't appreciate you till they need you," Wilder said. "This community could never really repay the debt it owes you."

Sexton praised

Also praised during the ceremony was Chief Sexton for his 50 years with the department. His son, Donald L. Sexton Jr., surprised Chief Sexton with the award.

Three generations of Sexton men have been fire volunteers somewhere, said Donald Sexton, training officer for the Boyle County Fire Department. His two sons, Brian, 13, and Lewis, 23, joined because they were "used to always been around it," said Lewis. "Tradition," said Brian simply.

But it is more than just tradition that keeps the Sexton family going, said Donald Sexton. Chief Sexton's dedication to the community has gone a long way in rubbing off on his family.

"There was seldom a holiday that he was there for the whole holiday. But I thought that's the way everybody lived," said Donald Sexton.

And after decades of watching their father or grandpa step up to serve, the Sextons are maintaining that holiday tradition. "The best example I can give is these last four Christmases at our house, me and my two sons have been out at fires," said Donald Sexton.

So what has kept the chief and his fellow firemen away from holiday dinners for so many years? "It's not what you'd call a job. I didn't get paid till 1996," said Chief Sexton. Must be "lack of sense."

Doubtful. Most would call it a sense of dedication.

Central Kentucky News Articles