Pictured is retiring Byron Fire Department firefighter Kenny Freeman, whom has served the Byron area since 2003. Photo submitted
By Mitch George
From now on, the Byron Fire Department will be missing the personality and firefighting experience of Kenny Freeman.
When asked about his inspiration to become a firefighter, Freeman said, "Back in 1975 when I was in high school, our English teacher made us read a book called Report From Engine Company 82 by Dennis Smith. I still have the book to this day. Reading that book, from that day on, inspired me to become a firefighter". He also replied, "My dad was a volunteer firefighter as well. There was actually a time where my dad and I were on the Virginia Beach Fire Department together at Station 16."
Freeman started as a fireman in Virginia Beach, Virginia on October 17th, 1976. Here, he was a member of Station 16. At the time he joined, he was one of the youngest Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in Virginia Beach. After three years here, Freeman joined the Army in 1979. His enlistment in the Army brought him all over the United States. From Virginia, he then moved to Ohio. Here, he was a volunteer member of the Greenfield Area Life Squad. His Army recruiting then brought him to Byron, where he has been on our squad since 2003.
Wherever Kenny went, he had gear to protect him. This gear, however, evolved greatly since he started in Virginia Beach. "Nowadays, the firefighter wears approximately 75 pounds of gear. Back when I started, all we had were three-quarter boots,, a rubber jacket, and a leather helmet." So much more has gone into the protection of firefighters since Kenny's beginning. On board one of Kenny's early engines was an air pack that one person could use out of the entire unit. He says, "A good day is when everyone gets to go home."
When Freeman was asked about his most memorable firefighting moment, he said, "In Byron, one of the biggest was the Roller Rink apartment fire. Outside of Byron, we had an apartment complex fire in Ohio where you could see the smoke and flames from three miles away."
Freeman was asked about his overall experience as a firefighter, to which he responded, "As far as being a firefighter, you either have it in you or you don't. We all know we are sacrificing time with our own families to serve families in the community, and I enjoy that. In the end, someone is having the worst day of their life. We are here to make things a little better."