JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Kimberly Furnace, right, looks on as her boyfriend, Derrick Ellis, puts on his firefighting pants before the two went for a run up and down Learned's Mill Road on Monday evening.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT
Kimberly Furnace, right, looks on as her boyfriend, Derrick Ellis, puts on his firefighting pants before the two went for a run up and down Learned's Mill Road on Monday evening.

Archived Story

Through the viewfinder: Couple gets ready for the call

Published 12:05am Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NATCHEZ — To most people, the idea of running, let alone walking, two miles in a pair of firefighter’s pants and a matching coat three times a week is out of the question.

But for Lt. Derrick Ellis of the Natchez Fire Department that jog is just the thing to keep him in shape so he is ready to face any challenge on the job.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Natchez Fire Department Lt. Derrick Ellis, right, walks up Learneds Mill Road with his girlfriend, Natchez Police Officer Kimberly Furnace on Monday evening.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Natchez Fire Department Lt. Derrick Ellis, right, walks up Learneds Mill Road with his girlfriend, Natchez Police Officer Kimberly Furnace on Monday evening.

“I just want to be in shape, and I like a good challenge,” Ellis said Monday evening, before joining his girlfriend, Natchez Police Department officer Kimberly Furnace, in a 30-minute run up and down the steep slope of Learneds Mill Road in Natchez.

The couple, who have been together for two years now, run or walk together through the city’s streets three evenings a week.

Ellis started running a decade ago before he was hired at the fire department, and he began training in the 20 pounds of gear shortly thereafter.

Ellis said his regular running schedule, and added weight of the gear, has certainly helped him lose any extra weight.

“It gets the sweat out,” Ellis said of the coat and pants. “It gets everything out.”

He said that staying in top physical shape is a must for anyone considering a career in firefighting.

“It helps a whole lot,” Ellis said. “You don’t want to be fat and doing this.”

Furnace, who has been an officer with the police department for two-and-a-half years, said the pair will pace themselves, but are more concerned with covering the distance than they are about the time they do it in.

“Sometimes he leads because his legs are longer, but he’ll slow up a bit if I start dropping behind,” Furnace said.

And Ellis said he could clearly see how this workout routine has helped him stay in shape.

“I was 30 years old when I got on with the department, and now I’m 40,” Ellis said. “And I’m in better shape now than I was when I was 30.”

Ellis said his attire doesn’t go unnoticed by passing motorists or pedestrians.

“I do get looks,” Ellis said. “Those looks that say ‘he must be crazy.’”

Along with the occasional questioning glance, Ellis said one of the things he enjoys is the people who shout out to thank him for his work as a firefighter.

“A lot of people say ‘thank you’ as we run past,” Ellis said.