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While the weekend marked the end of National Fire Prevention week, the celebration continued for the Richmond Fire Department, which celebrated its 200th year anniversary by whipping up pancakes for the community.

Public Information Officer Corey Lewis, dressed in a blue apron messy from making flapjacks and sausages, said the commemoration of the fire department was just beginning, by having the community come in to the fire station to see what it is they do and how they do it, while giving citizens the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with a firefighter.

In 1817, a charter was formed for the creation of the Richmond Fire Department. Back then, fires were put out by buckets of water being passed down in an assembly line like formation. Today, firefighters are enjoying the luxury of the 21st century technology, such as the $800,000 fire truck they will be unveiling in November. From horse drawn buggies to giant fire trucks, the Richmond Fire Department has grown over the 200 years, thanks to the expansion of the city of Richmond itself.

“As the city grows so does the response to what we do at the fire department. We should grow and change as well. I don't know if anyone could have predicted 100 years ago the growth that Richmond has seen in the past 25 years,” Lewis said during Saturday's celebration.

Among the many people at the breakfast was a family of four: Jonathan and Carrie Smith and their two daughters, Kaylee and Dakota. It was the first time for the family attending an event at the fire department but not their first visit there.

Recently, the Smiths, along with another family, called the fire department to see if it would be okay for them to stop by and see the fire station so they could see what it is they do. Carrie said these events are important to have because it teaches kids to not be afraid of firefighters if they ever come to their house.

Being able to allow the public to come into the fire station and ask questions is the goal Lewis had in mind.

According to Lewis, the fire station is as much the public as it is the firefighters'. Giving the public an opportunity to meet in a community building and to talk with firefighters is imperative for the success of the station, he added.

Another important task Lewis said the department is trying to accomplish before its anniversary is over is reconnecting with some of the retired firefighters who have served at the department. For firefighters, a special bond is forged when you spend 25 plus years together, Lewis said, becoming like their own family.

“The people we work with are the people we go on vacations with, who we spend our off evenings with. We see each others kids grow up with together, we see each other go through turmoil in our lives," he said. "Those guys want to stay as connected when they leave here as when they were here and sometimes that's a difficult transition. We really want to rebuild those family connections and so the bonds don't end here when they leave.”

As for the next 200 years, Lewis said he expects more advancements in technology and hopes to see a partnership between Richmond and Eastern Kentucky University to become a huge industry and technology hub for Kentucky.

“There is no reason in years to come that we couldn't be a catalyst for industry and technology in this community. We are centrally located to southern and northern states. The fire department is going to have to keep up with that and build that infrastructure to be prepared for that type of growth. We could be a model fire department for the nation in growth,” he said.

Reach Kaitlyn Skovran at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynskovran.

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Source : http://www.richmondregister.com/news/richmond-fire-department-celebrates-years-of-service/article_43ea8c1a-b2c1-11e7-9871-234bfb09d6ff.html

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