Aside from her name adorning the building and a certificate of honor hanging in the front lobby of a non-profit named in her honor, there is little visual reminder of Lexington fire Lt. Brenda Cowan's sacrifice.
The Brenda D. Cowan Coalition, a non-profit group that provides advocacy and programming for domestic violence survivors, is taking steps to change that.
The coalition, headquartered on Dev onport Drive near Alexandria Drive, is named after the first black female firefighter in Lexington. Cowan was shot and killed in 2004 while trying to help a domestic-violence victim.
On Thursday, Lexington fire Chief Keith Jackson presented the coalition with a framed, recently discovered photo of Cowan that was taken in the early 1990s, during her first few years on the force. She is seen in the photo showing a curious child the nozzle of a firetruck's hose.
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The photo was found a couple of weeks ago in an archive by David Greenlee, the fire department's incident photographer, Jackson said. It is one of only a few candid photos of Cowan, who usually was pictured posing in her uniform for her official staff photo.
Karen Trivette, executive director of the Brenda Cowan Coalition, said the photo would be displayed on a wall in the front lobby.
Trivette also said the coalition was seeking help to buy or build shadow boxes to house Cowan's uniform, which was donated by the fire department in 2005.
Cowan's helmet, breathing mask, coat, pants, gloves and boots have been in storage, Trivette said. The uniform is so thick and heavy, she said, that it probably would have to be housed in at least three displays.
She said monetary donations can be made at the coalition's headquarters, 1346 Devonport Drive. Alternately, if someone has spare displays that could house the uniform, or if they know how to build them, "we could use that, too," she said.
The plan is for Cowan's uniform to be displayed in the front lobby.
Trivette said mementoes of Cowan double as reminders of how quickly domestic violence can escalate. Cowan was one of the first people to arrive at a shooting on Adams Lane on Feb. 13, 2004.
Pat Hutchinson, who courts later ruled was mentally ill, shot his wife, Fontaine Hutchinson, and gunned down Cowan as she tried to help Fontaine Hutchinson.
"That's what we forget a lot in our community: how quickly it can happen," Trivette said. "Anyone that works in our field needs to be prepared for that moment when it escalates."