Next time you call 911, you might find yourself face to face with a mall rat, a phantom or a jester.
“The Jesters,” “Mall Rats” and “Phantoms” are nicknames for three of the 23 fire stations in Lexington. Since 1993, the department has allowed each station to feature an original logo on the trucks, Lexington Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Best said.
The nicknames and logos, which are approved by the department’s uniform committee, have helped build camaraderie, Best said.
“It has been a good thing for the department. It lets guys take pride in your particular company,” he said. “Most nicknames are because of something unique to that truck.”
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Engine 16, on Man o’ War Boulevard, is nicknamed “The Cave”by the station itself, which is architecturally similar to Bag End of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth. It features rustic elements, wooden plaques and skylights. The station’s logo has two brawny Flintstones-looking cavemen. Capt. Paul Abercrombie’s helmet features “Capt. Caveman” engraved on the back.
“The station’s 34 years old,” Abercrombie said. “I like how this station is laid out. It’s like going into a missile silo.”
Engine 8 (“Legendary Pride”) and 15 (“Mall Rats”) both got their names from their proximity to two of Lexington’s biggest attractions: the Lexington Legends baseball field and Fayette Mall. Engine 8’s fire truck features the Legends’ mustache on the front. The station, which opened in 1964, got permission to reuse the original Legends logo.
“It’s been a badge of honor,” said Lt. Nick Bodkin of Engine 8. “The Engine 8 and Legendary Pride has stuck as a synonym of being one of the best in the city in terms of training and doing what we do.”
During Halloween, Engine 4 on Jefferson Street (“Phantoms”) becomes a popular tourist attraction because of a ghost that supposedly haunts the station. The station, which opened in 1904, is the oldest in the department. Firefighter Chris MacFarlane swears that he remembers smelling a burnt cigarette one night in the station when no one else was around.
“The phantom comes from 1945, when Capt. Henry McDonald died here,” MacFarlane said. “He supposedly haunted the station after that and even today. Ghost hunters have come by to try and catch this ghost.”
Engine 11 on Harrodsburg Road is far more lighthearted. The station adopted the name “The Jesters” in the late 1990s as a way to promote a stress-free environment at a job that is often the opposite, firefighter Bill McIntosh said.
“We definitely have the best logo,” McIntosh said. “It brings the group together.”