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Jamie Henderson: Pink Heals, Tunnel to Towers part of community involvement for Radcliff fire chief

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By Robert Villanueva

Radcliff Fire Chief Jamie Henderson has been tested by fire and ice and has met those challenges while seeking ways to serve the community.

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After working as a firefighter for years for the Vine Grove and Radcliff fire departments, Henderson took on the role of fire chief just before the January 2009 ice storm.

“I learned, myself, about resources,” Henderson said, explaining he had taken on an emergency management role.

Learning what resources were available to assist his department was important, he said. That resulted in him finding a chain saw crew from out of state.

“Every day I learn something new,” he said.

That experience is just part of Henderson’s stint as a firefighter, which has spanned about 21 years.

“I started when I was a junior in high school,” Henderson said.

He was a volunteer firefighter then and was drawn to the field because of the diversity of work involved.

“In the fire services you don’t have just one thing you learn,” Henderson said.

Fire service personnel learn the job in various aspects including medical training, safety awareness and community involvement, among other things, he said.

With an eye to that community involvement, Henderson assisted when area organizations coordinated the community’s first Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. The event honored a Brooklyn firefighter who travelled on foot from a tunnel closed to traffic to the site of the 9/11 attacks.

Hendersonalso has worked with Vine Grove Fire Chief Steve New to create a Pink Heals chapter complete with a pink firetruck. It is the only such chapter in Kentucky.

The idea resulted when Vine Grove Assistant Fire Chief Sam Pearson visited Phoenix, Ariz., and saw a pink fire truck. Phoenix is the home of the founder of the Pink Heals movement.

Pearson’s wife, Donna Joy, died of cancer. He suggested a Pink Heals chapter to New and Henderson.

“They’re just the driving force getting it done,” Pearson said.

Henderson’s involvement in helping set up the chapter, procure a used fire truck and transform it into the iconic pink symbol is not a surprise to Pearson because he believes Henderson works well with people.

The Radcliff fire chief, Pearson said, has done “amazing things” for the city.

Radcliff Deputy Fire Marshal Tommy Crane likewise credited Henderson with leadership that has resulted in the department making great advances in fire prevention programs while continuing to broaden response capabilities.

Crane said Henderson also promotes community service and cohesiveness.

“He strives to encourage teamwork and at the same time individual responsibility, letting each person add input and respecting them as a person,” Crane said.

Such teamwork is critical, Henderson said, and is one of the most valuable lessons he’s learned as a firefighter.

“It’s all teamwork,” he said. “If you don’t have the guys around you you can’t do your job.”

That job includes anything you might see at a larger metropolitan area, just on a smaller scale, he said. There’s no real difference in responding to fires from one department to another.

“Houses burn the same,” Henderson said.

But Henderson seeks to provide services beyond putting out fires.

“We’re always thinking about the public and what we can do for them,” Henderson said.

Child safety seat checks and smoke alarm programs are just a couple examples. Henderson believes in doing what he can for the community because of, among other things, the support the department receives from it.

“They’re the ones that pay the tax dollars; they’re the ones who buy the equipment,” he said. “We’re just here to man it.”

In that same vein, Henderson encouraged community residents and groups to visit.

“If anybody wants a tour or anybody wants to stop on by and meet us, we’re happy to meet them,” Henderson said. “It’s their fire department.”

A FEW BURNING QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT JAMIE HENDERSON::

  • Town of birth: Mariemont, Ohio.
  • Town of residence: Radcliff.
  • Family: Wife and three children.
  • Favorite music: Country.
  • Favorite movies: The “National Treasure” series.
  • Hobbies: Yard work and home improvement.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.

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