Collierville fire


CFD Fast Facts


Local Tragedy Transformed

CFD in 1986

Collierville First Responders

Show Compassion in a Crisis

CFD Expands Knowledge about

Lifesaving Equipment

CFD Trains Countless Hours for

Medical Emergency Response

Kid Safe Fire Prevention

Program Gets Real Results

CFD Shows How Fire

Sprinklers Save Lives

Six Collierville Students

Receive State Honors

Lieutenant Rickey Walker

Promoted to Battalion Chief

1/5/17 - Anyone who has ever lived through a tragedy knows that the only way to even attempt to make things right is to take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Charles Gatlin took a petition with over 1200 signatures to the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The public outcry sped up plans for a paramedic unit in Collierville that had been unfolding behind the scenes over the previous year. Mark King, who is Chief of Administration at the Collierville Fire Department, was hired in 1984 as an EMT. After about a year at the department, King was made a part of the long term plans for a paramedic unit. He went to college to study Emergency Medical Services Management, and then was asked to visit other fire departments and observe their best practices in running a paramedic unit.

The Department hired 6 paramedics and sent them to every kind of training available and purchased a "mini-pumper" truck that was stocked with medical supplies and equipped with rescue tools for both adults and children, which was unusual at that time. This "Med Squad" was housed at Collierville's Firehouse #2, and quickly became known and in demand not only in Collierville, but in Fayette County and counties in Mississippi. "None of the other small fire departments had those capabilities," said King. "We had the hydraulic 'jaws of life' and were called to rescue people who were trapped in cars. Memphis was the only other city with that capability."

Eventually, the growth in Collierville forced the Fire Department to grow as well. The one Med Squad was exchanged for firefighter/paramedic units at each firehouse by 1996, and the number of firehouses increased to the 5 in Collierville today. These firefighter/paramedic units are called Advanced Life Support (ALS) companies and each truck is staffed two fully certified paramedics.

"When you look back 30 years, you hate that it was a young man's death that brought about a needed change," said King, "But once the change was initiated, we had strong support from the Mayor and Board and from the public. It's been a great 30 years because we are able to teach CPR and how to use automatic defibrillators to schools, churches and businesses. We work with hospice patients in making their last days comfortable. Today we go to health fairs and we are able to do so much more than just check blood pressure." Today, 68% of the calls the CFD receives are emergency medical calls. The Department answers with a fully prepared staff of 62 commissioned firefighters, 34 of which are full Paramedics, and 22 of which are Advanced EMTs. The Advanced EMTs are a relatively new designation, and they are able to perform more life saving techniques than the EMTs of the past.
1/12/17 - In December of 2015, Sandra Wyse made an emergency phone call needing medical attention for a family member in her home. Collierville Firefighter/Paramedics and a Collierville Police Officer responded quickly and performed their jobs in ways that made a lasting impression on Sandra.

Reflecting on the memory a year later, Sandra shares that night will be one she never forgets because of the family emergency, but also because of the way the first responders handled the incident.

“I will never forget them or be able to adequately express my appreciation to them,” said Sandra. “I realize that these men and women do this sort of thing routinely, but in addition to being professional, they are extremely kind and caring.” Sandra mentioned how Officer Cherie Lee never left her side, and how gently Lieutenant/Paramedics Joe Lee Rape and Mike Samsone spoke to her.

“I never felt like they were going to hurry away and leave me alone, or that I was just one of many calls,” said Sandra. “They put their lives on the line for us and save the lives of so many, yet somehow, I think few of us are really aware of just home much more they actually do until we have a personal crisis. I am certain there have been many before me and many since, but I feel sure I speak for all of us that we deeply appreciate them and their service.”

In addition to Officer Lee, and Lieutenants Rape and Samsone, other Collierville Fire responders were recognized by Sandra including Lieutenant Kenny Stovall, Jeff Segerson, Ronnie Dunigan, Jason Howell and Randy Shive.
3/9/17 - Part of the mission of the Collierville Fire Department includes continual personnel training to learn about new technologies and advancements to fight fires and to save lives. On March 9, 2017, Collierville Firefighters learned about various sprinkler systems – how they operate, different system capabilities and even a live simulation on a controlled fire.

“We want to be professional about every aspect of our job,” said Paul Witt, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention. “While a building or home owner should know how their sprinkler system operates, we want to provide our assistance whenever we are needed.”

The National Fire Protection Association reports that sprinkler systems reduce civilian fire deaths by 83% and reduce direct property damage by 69%. In addition to saving lives and property, sprinklers are environmentally friendly and create a safer atmosphere for firefighters.

4/6/17 - Did you know that the Collierville Fire Department responds to an average of 70% medical calls and 30% fire-related emergencies? Persistent training and continued education is a way of life for firefighter personnel from learning advancements in life-saving equipment to renewing medical certifications. Out of the Collierville Fire Department’s 62 commissioned firefighters, there are 34 Paramedics and 28 Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). On April 5, 2017, an instructor from Benchmark Medical Services, Robert Welch, led an Emergency Vehicle Operators Course (EVOC) twice during the day to accommodate changing firefighter shifts. With over 30 years of experience as a Paramedic in Memphis, Welch not only knows the training material but lived it.

“The best piece of lifesaving equipment we have is our seatbelt,” said Welch. He then told a story about his head going through a window in the back of an ambulance after the driver had to slam on the breaks. “I was lucky to only come out of that with just a dislocated shoulder.”

The United States Fire Administration states that motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters (the leading cause of injury and death is overexertion.) A crash involving a firetruck not only puts the firefighters in a life-threatening situation, but impacts the community’s safety by having personnel and an equipped vehicle unable to respond to an emergency. The Emergency Vehicle Operators Course covered topics from the daily, tedious inspections of a firetruck to legal ramifications of being involved in a wreck.

To keep Paramedic and Advanced EMT medical accreditations current, there are state and federal regulations that require a specific amount of continuing educations hours met every 2 years. For example, the Tennessee Department of Health states to renew a Paramedic licensure, one must complete “32 continuing education hours approved by the EMS Board; 8 of the 32 hours must be in pediatric related topics.”

Lieutenant Pat McGrath oversees the EMS Quality Improvement Program at the Collierville Fire Department and works closely with their Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Holley, to meet and exceed training requirements for Collierville Fire personnel. They are always exploring new ideas and equipment to weigh the benefit for the safety of the Collierville community.
5/23/17 - Erin Daniels loves her job. The 4- year veteran of the Collierville fire department is a Public Education Specialist – she goes to schools, churches and other organizations and educates people about what to do in the event of a fire. It’s one thing to love what you are doing regardless of the feedback you receive. Then you have times when you get to see the fruit of what you do. Daniels experienced this recently when she received an email from Dina Foshee, Preschool Director at Faith Lutheran Preschool in Collierville. The message from Foshee forwarded a letter from the parent of a student whose recall of Daniels’ Kid Safe Fire Prevention program had saved his own home

Kid Safe is a fire safety curriculum for young children that originally created by the Oklahoma City Fire Department, but Daniels has customized the Collierville Kid Safe with special music and coloring pages. Reinforcing fire safety rules through all of the senses produces success stories like the one involving Cooper Gilbert.

Daniels had been at Cooper’s preschool in March. In mid-April, Cooper was at home with his mother Laurie and brother Colby. There was a perfect storm of circumstances – Laurie set a box on the counter near the stove and Colby came behind her and turned on a burner. Laurie had stepped away from the scene. “Cooper, having been taught awesome fire safety skills, ran to get me and alert me to the now billowing smoke and foot tall flames,” said Laurie Gilbert. Cooper also took his brother outside to the family’s “safe spot” and Laurie was able to extinguish the flames in the kitchen.

“If it hadn’t been for the fire safety lessons Cooper has learned at Faith Lutheran Preschool, we may not have discussed our fire safety plan as a family and he may not have known what to do,” said Laurie Gilbert. Faith Lutheran Preschool is one of ten preschools in the Collierville area where Erin Daniels presents her Kid Safe Fire Safety curriculum. Every month for seven months there is a different lesson, covering some aspect of fire safety such prevention, exiting a structure that’s on fire and setting an outside meeting place. Each lesson builds upon the last until the children have a full picture of how to prevent fires and how to react if caught in a fire. At the last meeting, Daniels reviews all the information and the kids get to tour a real fire truck.

Daniels’ job requires other tasks of her: writing fire safety articles for local publications, maintaining fire safety brochure racks around town, and preparing for events like Fair on the Square, the Fire Safety Poster Contest and the Collierville Business Expo. But all of the activity comes back to the goal of teaching the public how to prevent or deal with potential disaster from fire.
5/31/17 - Did you happen to walk by the Collierville Fire Department display at Fair on the Square? In addition to sharing fire safety education materials with children, the Fire Department had an educational demonstration to share with adults as well.

Using the Mobile Safety Simulator trailer, Paul Witt, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention, set an actual fire to show how quickly and effectively a sprinkler system can suppress the flames. His demonstration took about 40 seconds for the sprinkler to activate after the fire started.

Chief Witt explained that this sprinkler system, which is used in residences, is a single-head activation system – meaning that the sprinkler head will only activate where the ceiling temperature has reached 135 degrees. For example, if a fire occurs in the kitchen of a home with a sprinkler system, only the sprinkler head in the kitchen will activate to suppress the fire. This causes less damage to homes and creates a safer environment for firefighters.

“We don’t call it an extinguishing system, we call it a suppression system. You still need the Fire Department to come to your home to extinguish the fire,” said Chief Witt. “These systems are life safety systems for us. They protect your family and they protect the firefighters that show up at your home.”

2/3/17 - Each October, fire departments statewide make preparations for the annual Fire Prevention Week Poster Contest; the contest marks the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The theme for Fire Prevention Week 2016 was “Don’t Wait; Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.

Fire Prevention Week is a perfect time to promote public awareness of fire prevention and fire safety. The Collierville Fire Department is an annual supporter of the poster contest which is open to all public, private and homeschooled students in grades Kindergarten through 12th. After participating schools or groups select their own grade level winners, Collierville Fire personnel and Town staff select the Collierville town-wide winners. Collierville winning posters are sent to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for statewide judging.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office received over 125 entries from across Tennessee. Of the 16 statewide awards available, Collierville students won 6 total! The winners Bryant Dai (Kindergarten), Kendall Harper (4th Grade), Daksha Mohan (5th Grade), Sophie Marcrum (7th Grade), Julia Timms (8th Grade) and Katie Tucker (12th Grade) are all from Collierville Schools. The posters are judged from faculty and professionals affiliated with Belmont University and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Last year Collierville had seven statewide poster winners - in both 2015 and 2016 Collierville set records for the highest number of poster winners from one city!

On Saturday, January 28, statewide poster winners were recognized at the 2016 Fire Prevention Week Poster Contest Awards Ceremony at the Tennessee Fire & Codes Academy in Bell Buckle, TN. Each winner received a First Place ribbon, a certificate of achievement from the Governor, and a $50 cash prize. Winners also learned about and practiced fire extinguisher usage, technical rescue rope training and kitchen safety during afternoon sessions on the campus. Additional highlights included meeting Wrigley, a trained accelerant detection dog, and a live burn demonstration highlighting the advantages of having a fire sprinkler system.

“I hope we have another banner year of Fire Prevention Week Poster Winners. Not only is Collierville breaking state poster winner records, but we are educating children and their parents about important fire safety messages,” said Erin Daniels, Collierville Fire Public Education Specialist.
12/23/17 - Lieutenant Rickey Walker of the Collierville Fire Department will be promoted to Battalion Chief effective October 29, 2017. Walker (pictured) is a Collierville native and graduated from Collierville High School. After graduating from the University of Memphis and the Tennessee Fire Service and Code Enforcement Academy, he pursued his education in the field even further by graduating from the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Walker is a licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) and is certified as a Hazardous Material State Instructor.

Besides serving as a past president for the Tennessee Firefighters Association and Collierville Crime Stoppers, Walker is a member of the Collierville Civic Club and is on the Collierville Education Foundation Board. Walker is also a graduate of Leadership Collierville and a past recipient of the Collierville Firefighter of the Year award.

Walker not only serves his immediate community with his skills and experience, but he’s also an active member of Tennessee Task Force One (TN-TF1), a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force based in Memphis. He’s been deployed on more than a dozen target disasters over the past fifteen years, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, Weapons of Mass Destruction terrorist attacks, and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. His most recent deployment was assisting citizens trapped by floodwaters in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

As a Battalion Chief, Walker will work a 24 hour shift and manage five firehouses. This includes coordinating fire, emergency medical, hazardous material and technical rescue responses as well as supervising Fire Lieutenants at fire ground operations.

"During Lieutenant Walker’s 32 years of service and as a company Lieutenant, he has strived to prepare him-self for this day by attending many fire leadership classes, some required while others were not,” said Collierville Fire Chief Buddy Billings. “I'm very excited for Rickey and for the fire department. He brings a vast amount of knowledge to this position and I know he will do an outstanding job!”
  • 2,448 Emergency Medical Calls
  • 2,072 Patients Treated
  • 1,795 Patients Transported by Ambulance
  • 2 Patients Transported by Wing
  • 78 Fires
  • 38 Structure Fires
  • 18 Vehicle Fires
  • 22 Other Fires



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