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Fire Department History

The Daviess County Fire Department began on June 15th, 1961 with a central station, located in downtown Owensboro, with three shifts of two firefighters per shift, with a total of six Firefighters under the direction of Chief A.D. Coy. The department began with a 1961 Pumper and a homemade Tanker. In addition, the Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department, the oldest department in the County, Masonville and Utica volunteer Fire Departments made up the entire fire system covering nearly 500 square miles. Chief Coy died of an apparent heart attack while fighting a fire on August 9, 1971, becoming the county’s only line of duty death to date.

After Chief Coy’s passing in 1971, Larry Westerfield was promoted to Fire Chief. Under the direction of Chief Westerfield, in 1973, the department moved to a new station located at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, adding an Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF) Vehicle, and a new Pumper.

In 1974, construction began on ten new Volunteer Fire Stations. Additional fire apparatuses were ordered and the first Fire Insurance rating was secured exactly one year later. Over the next four years, ten new Fire Stations had been built, twenty-four new fire apparatuses were delivered, over five hundred radio monitors were purchased and four hundred and fifty Volunteer Firefighters were trained.

In 1988 the department began a First Responder policy on medical emergency calls, thus training all personnel to the Emergency Medical Technician level. With the added number of responses, the department grew in manpower to eleven in 1989 and fifteen in 1994. Chief Westerfield retired in 1995 after serving twenty-four years as Chief.

In 1995, Joseph Kennedy replaced Chief Westerfield after his retirement. Chief Kennedy acquired a large river Rescue Boat to give the county water rescue capabilities. In 1998, the need for a Fire Inspector/Investigator was recognized and added. Discussion with the Daviess County Fiscal Court for an additional paid station in the East County began in approximately 2000. Before the station became a reality, Chief Kennedy retired in 2002.

Brent Hayden replaced Chief Kennedy in 2002. In 2003, an Advanced Life Support First Responder License was obtained through the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services. This license is still held today as the only ALS First Responder in Kentucky.

On June 13, 2004, the East Station opened, giving the department a second station with twenty-three personnel and the ability to respond countywide to any emergency response in a timely manner. In 2006 the department became staffed with a total of twenty-nine personnel, containing a Chief, an Inspector/Investigator and three shifts, each containing nine Firefighters. Chief Hayden retired in 2009.

Dwane Smeathers succeeded Chief Hayden in 2009. Due to growth at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport in 2009, the addition of a second ARFF Vehicle was made. In 2010, the addition of monitor/defibrillators capable of sending an EKG directly to the Emergency Room from any location in the county became possible, giving heart patients a better chance for survival and quality of life. In 2013 came the arrival of a new Pumper for the Airport Station and a new Pumper was delivered to the East Station in the spring of 2014. In 2013, additional equipment was purchased, giving the department the capability to perform grain bin and rope rescue.

Chief Jeremy Smith succeeded Chief Smeathers in 2019, and currently resides as the Daviess County Fire Chief. The department operates from two stations with twenty-nine personnel, twenty-two trained as EMT-Basic and seven trained as EMT-Paramedic. The two stations combined house two ARFF vehicles, two Pumpers, two Rescue vehicles, two Utility Vehicle Brush Units, three Rescue boats, a specialty rescue truck and trailer and three Command/Support vehicles for the Chief, Assistant Chiefs and Inspector/Investigator.

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