A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Eight young Ashland Fire Department firefighters celebrate becoming ‘fire-fathers’ in the same year

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Several young firefighters at a Kentucky fire department may seem a little sleepy these days and it’s not because of 24-hour shifts.

Eight firefighters – nearly 20 percent of the Ashland Fire Department’s 50 firemen – became firefathers in the past year.

“It’s caused a little shortage of staffing,” said AFD Fire Chief Greg Ray, who saw it coming in January. “But we think it’s great. We’ve never had them all at once like this.”

Because so many of the firefighters took time off after their babies were born, Ray said it put a little stress on the remaining crew.

Eight firefighters from Ashland hold babies that were all born in 2018. That equals nearly 20 percent of the 50-man force at the Ashland Fire Department. (Photo courtesy of Tracie Brown of TB Photography via Kentucky Today)

Ray said they began making announcements back in January that this wife was pregnant, then another and another and another and, well, you get the idea.

“In the last few years we’ve hired 17 young ones,” Ray said. “So they’re all starting families.”

Firefighter Matt McAllister, one of the new fathers, said the AFD is a young department. “We had two guys who had babies last year so it’s 10 in a little over a month. I love it.”

Firefighters have a big brotherhood but the firefighter families share that atmosphere, too, Ray said. He enjoys watching the visits to the fire stations.

“Most of them see (their kids) in the evenings here for a few minutes,” he said. “They love playing on the trucks and visiting. Working 24-hour shifts, if they don’t get a little time in like this, they may not see them too much.”

The eight firefighters who had babies in 2018 posed for a photograph with their new sons and daughters in front of one of the fire engines. They posted photos on the Ashland Fire Department’s Facebook page. The photographs were taken by Tracie Brown, one of the wives who has her own photography business in Ashland.

“That was a pretty exciting 20 minutes, with a lot of slobber,” said McAllister, whose baby was his third “and last, hopefully.”

Ray, who has two grown children at 30 and 26, remembered when his kids visited the fire station. “I’ve got grandkids that come now,” he said. “It’s pretty neat.”

Ray said he wasn’t expecting an encore performance by the firefighters in 2019. But the eight new boys and girls already here will have some lifelong playmates and some of the biggest fire trucks on the block.

McAllister said these eight new bundles of joy will be like cousins through the years. “This bunch will even be in the same grade, so that’s exciting,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of Tracie Brown of TB Photography via Kentucky Today)

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