The Dart: Central Fire Station gets visitors from around globe

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 28, 2018


NATCHEZ — “Firefighters consider themselves a brotherhood,” said Lola Knight administrative assistant at Natchez Fire Department Central Station on Main Street, where The Dart recently landed.

The walls of Central Fire Station are adorned with corkboards and frames bearing patches from fire departments throughout the world.

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Knight said some of the patches are mailed to the station but visitors drop off most of them in person when they are in town, mostly during the Spring and Fall pilgrimages.

The 140 displayed patches bear insignia from fire stations around the globe including Queensland, Australia; Germany; South Beach, N.Y.; Los Angeles; Compton, California; and Oxford, to name a few.

“They come in and want to look at patches, ring the bell and see the pole,” Knight said of the visitors. She explained the bell is used to summon firefighters from the sleeping quarters or the basement, and demonstrated by tapping the clapper against the sound bow and within seconds firefighter Chris Dunaway emerged from the sleeping quarters.

The pole, Knight said, is no longer actually used.

Knight pulled handful of Natchez Fire Department patches out of a cabinet and said she exchanges one of those patches for each of the visitors’ patches or mails one back to firefighters who have mailed the Natchez department a patch.

Dunaway who has been a Natchez firefighter since 1998 said he’s met several of the visiting firefighters through the years.

“A lady from Australia came in, and her father was a firefighter in Australia,” Dunaway said. “She gave me one of their patches.”

Dunaway said he also remembered visitors from France and Germany.

Dunaway said he enjoys his career as a firefighter and he has had many unusual and substantial experiences in his career, including fighting a fire that burned the historic Arlington house in September 2002.

Ryan Jones, who has been with the department for 14 years, the past 2-and-a-half as a fire marshal, said firefighting a rewarding career.

Jones said he enjoyed his time on the truck, especially because he liked the one-day on, two-days off schedule.

During the down time, he said, firefighters study maps and train.

“They have to be ready when the call does come,” Jones said, adding he is enjoying his role as fire marshal.

It is all part of the firefighter’s job.

“They are a close-knit family,” Knight said. “All emergency responders are a brotherhood and sisterhood, and they like to interact and see different fire stations. It builds camaraderie.”