At 87, retired Lexington Fire Major Orville Cook leafed through a scrapbook of newspaper clippings Sunday, reminiscing about his work on dramatic fires and rescues and when the city’s Station 6 “was at the center of everything.”
The fire station at 501 South Limestone Street had its centennial celebration Sunday. “This is where it all happened,” Cook said.
When he joined the department in 1957, it was Lexington’s firefighter training center.
A few years later during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the public showed up there to learn what to do in case of an attack, said Cook. “We had people lined up until 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning having classes for several weeks.”
Lexington’s first motorized fire engine, following the days of the horse drawn wagon, was at one time assigned to Station 6, said Battalion Fire Chief Phil Buettner, who made sure the engine was ready for the event. Station 6 has housed, at some time, almost every type of apparatus the department has used: pumpers, ladder trucks, emergency care units and water towers, a news release said.
In its early years, Station 6 was called the “Scovell Engine House,” named after Melville A. Scovell, a prominent agricultural leader with national recognition at the turn of the century, the news release said. Built in a bungalow style, the station was last remodeled in 1986.
Station 6 was where Lexington firefighter Chuck Williams, who died in the line of duty in 1997, was assigned, said Lt. Shannon Poynter, a fire department officer who oversees the station.
Retired Lexington Fire Chief Gary McComas, who headed the department from 1987 to 1997, said Station 6 during its 100 years had served both the University of Kentucky and surrounding neighborhoods including historic South Hill.
Sunday’s celebration included an open house featuring historic photographs, antique fire trucks and memorabilia and an appearance by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Fire Chief Kristin Chilton said she was assigned to Station 6 as a firefighter and again as a lieutenant and captain.
Today, the firefighters at Station 6 are known for being a tight knit group.
“We always make a point to eat together. We always make a point to have get-togethers, whether it be a fish fry or a cook-out, a pool party (at firefighters’ homes) on our days off, to have that camaraderie and the closeness, to get our families together,” Poynter said.