History of the Dixie Firefighter Association

In the early 1960s, members of the Central Kentucky Firefighters Association, who lived west of Anderson County, considered creating an association more centrally located for them to meet. In 1963, a group of firefighters met in the basement of the Nelson County Courthouse and formed the Dixie Firefighters Association.

The Association grew slowly and formed many new friendships. Its purpose was to help member departments conserve life and property through education and promote fellowship between members.

In the early days, people like Merl Conklin, Richard Bogard Sr., Archie Hawkins, Clifford Bowen, Arch Pendergrass, William Greenwell, Elroy Burrington, Ralph Hunt, and Ralph Wright were the organizers of the Association.

The Dixie Fire School began in those early days, and attendance was less than 100. Currently, in 2009, registration has risen to over 800. The original tradition was to host the school in the city/county of the current president. Currently, the school is held in Elizabethtown because of the inability to find a location that can accommodate so many emergency service workers in one location. Memorable Dixie schools include the blizzard of 1993 when the Dixie Fire School was held in Bardstown. We woke up on Saturday morning to over 6 inches of snow. And the extreme snowfall of March 2008, that almost shut the school down. The Fire School has survived the floods of 1998, lost equipment, lost instructors, experienced less than adequate classroom space, and had its share of bad weather. But one thing has always remained the same, the school and the hard-working membership behind the scenes have stuck together and pulled through each crisis.

Bowen Training Center Firefighter Memorial

On October 24, 2002, the Dixie Firefighters Association dedicated the "Emergency Services Responder Memorial" at the Bowen Training Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

The memorial is made up of 7 symbols—the symbols are:

  1. The 3,500 pound 3 foot diameter 5 foot tall red granite column—symbolic of our rich history—salvaged from Freedom Hall after the recent renovation. Inscription: "Dedicated to the memory of all who silently serve their community."
  2. At the top of the column sits a stainless steel Maltese Cross, symbolizing the Fire Service.
  3. To the right of the column is a limestone post inlaid with the "Star of Life," symbolizing the emergency medical services.
  4. To the left of the column is a limestone post inlaid with the "Jaws of Life," symbolizing rescue.
  5. To the far right is a limestone post inlaid with both a Police and Sheriff badge, symbolizing law enforcement.
  6. To the far left of is a limestone post inlaid with a factory representation with two gears and a tractor, symbolizing manufacturing and farming.
  7. The flag pole to the rear of the memorial, symbolizes the dedication to country. Three flags fly on the pole—U.S., Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the Fire Department flag.

Each October, the Dixie Firefighters Association honors emergency service workers that have passed away. A bell is rung as recognition of those passing.

Bell Symbolism

During times like these we seek strong symbols to give us a better understanding of our feelings.

During this time of memorial as a reflection of the devotion each had for his or her duty.

The ringing of the bell is a strong symbol which gives honor and respect to those who have served; a special signal that represents the end of duties and the returning to quarters.

The last alarm, for we are coming home.

The life of a firefighter is closely associated with the ringing of the bell. As he or she begins the hours of duty it is the bell that starts it off.

So through the day and night, each alarm is sounded by a bell, which calls the duty to serve—fighting fires and to place their own lives in jeopardy—for the good of our fellowman.

When the fire is out and the alarm has come to an end, the bell rings three times to signal the completion.

And now we ring the bell with the roll call of names, each has completed the task, their duties well done.