A Band of Heroes, Chief Bobby Hume and Lawrenceburg Fire Dept

Lawrenceburg has a volunteer fire department. The 27 members are committed to doing their utmost to keep the community safe.  When an emergency happens, whether at 3:00 in the afternoon, or 3:00 in the morning, they respond and fast.

Chief Bobby Hume has been the Fire Chief in Lawrenceburg for 23 years.  He is vitally concerned with your safety and the safety of his volunteers.

Chief Hume was born and raised in Anderson County.  He went to Western High School, graduating in 1967.  He went into the army in 1968, serving in Vietnam as a mechanic on Cobra Helicopters.  He spent 21 years in the reserves, retiring in 1993.

He joined the Anderson County Fire Department in 1979, and became an EMT in 1980.  He then became the station 4 assistant chief.  He moved into Lawrenceburg in 1984 and joined the city fire department.  He became chief in 1993.

He is married to Elizabeth and has raised 6 children and currently has 20 grandchildren.  His hobbies are hunting and fishing.  The chief also likes to restore old cars.

It takes a special person to be willing to put their life on the line to help others. But that is what fire fighters do.  They receive training twice a month, to make sure they stay ready to assist you.  The training also helps them keep up to date on equipment and fire fighting techniques.

For example, years ago when furniture tended to be cotton based, it might take 30 minutes for a room to become fully engulfed by flames.  Today, with most furniture being polyester or petroleum based, a room can be fully engulfed, called flashover, in three minutes.  This requires different skills to get to the fire rapidly and also to ensure the safety of the volunteers.

Chief Hume’s motto is safety first.  He wants to make sure the volunteers are safe.  No home is worth a human life.  That said, they will do all they can to protect your home and put the fire out.

Sometimes this means they need to put a hole in a roof or break in a wall, but that is so they get to the source of the flames and put the fire out.  The chief is also concerned with preserving those contents that are irreplaceable, like family pictures.  But again, saving human lives is paramount, whether occupants or the volunteers.

When a fire is reported, police dispatch sends an activation tone to the radios all volunteers carry.  The officers then go to the scene of the fire while the firefighters go to the station. Due to safety and traffic concerns, Chief Hume prefers firefighters that are outside of the county when they get the activation do not respond.

Chief Hume and the officers at the scene will determine the status of the emergency and what response is needed.  It should be noted that there were 76-78 calls last year, which is low for a city the size of Lawrenceburg.

The Lawrenceburg Fire Department works closely with the local police and sheriff’s departments, the Anderson County Fire Department, EMS as well as the fire departments in surrounding cities and counties.  They help one another.  This is all for safety.

They also keep up-to-date on equipment.  They have a Thermal Energy Camera that can locate heat sources.  They have a new hydraulic auto extractor that is able to get people out of the newer cars that require newer technology.

Even the protective suits the volunteers wear are designed for safety.  They need to be replaced every 10 years per regulations.  The suits cost between $1,600 and $2,000, and they protect against fire and heat.

People know of the danger from fire and smoke, but the danger from heat is also significant.  Heat is more of an issue now because the tin roofs that are so popular hold heat in and this is also very dangerous to the firefighters.

Other services the department provides include responding when a smoke detector goes off.  If that happens, call dispatch and help will be sent.  They can also detect carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and LEL (explosives).

The Fire Department also provides other services, including pumping basements or crawl spaces for no charge when there is city flooding.  They also are involved in helping children through CASA, and are a collection point for the annual toy drive, coordinating with Open Hands.

Remember, the volunteers are here to help you.  When you get the chance, say thank you.

-Written by Don West

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