A fitting tribute

Dedicating new fire truck to former chief proper way to honor Rawlings
Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:11 AM

Every time Sevierville firefighters roll out in response to a call on their newest fire engine, they’ll have ex-chief Mike Rawlings with them.

The Sevierville Fire Department couldn’t have picked a more fitting honor for its late chief than dedicating its new, state-of-the-art truck to him. While it would be fair to say Rawlings is there in spirit every time the department goes out on a call, the newest truck was dedicated in honor of him at its “pushing in” last week at headquarters.

That’s fitting. It’s not just hyperbole to say Rawlings dedicated his life to the department. When he died at 65 at the end of last year following a struggle with cancer, he’d been serving the community for most of the previous four decades, including about 20 years as chief.

He worked hard to see to it his firefighters had the best equipment they could get, even with the tight city budgets of recent years. Purchase of the new, $550,000 truck had been one of his goals. It was paid for in large part through a private donation, but Rawlings had been involved in helping to come up with the specs and in working with the city to get the remaining funds.

The donation meant the city can move more quickly toward some of the department’s other goals, including new fire stations.

The truck can pump out 1,500 gallons of water a minute. It’s designed to make everything as efficient and easy to access as possible for firefighters.

That makes it an even more fitting tribute to Rawlings, because it’s a pretty good summary of how he saw his duties as chief.

He knew the men and women working for him would pull on their gear, grab a hose and run toward a fire to keep it from spreading. Or go into a burning house to get people out.

As chief, he knew his role was to see to it they had the things they needed to do that quickly and safely.

With the dedication of the city’s newest fire engine in his honor, the memory of his efforts will roll along with his firefighters for years to come.