Throughout my time in the fire service, I have come in contact with many other firefighters from across the country, and the majority of which have been at conventions, training sessions, or through my work. While everyone that I come in contact with or work with leaves an impression, some stand out more than others. Last night, I joined my brothers and sisters from the Bristol VA Professional Firefighter’s in a going away party for one of those guys.
Sgt. Keith Bowen came to work in Bristol, Virginia nearly 15 years ago. I came to know Keith several years ago during training class and my part-time employment in Bristol on the ambulance. Bowen is definitely one of those individuals that will leave an everlasting impression to this area. He recently accepted a job as a firefighter in Holly Springs, North Carolina, and is relocating about 4 hours away. Throughout his time in the area, he has been dedicated to his department as well as his IAFF Local. Sgt Bowen has served as the Local President for a number of years.
Last night, the brothers and sisters of the Bristol VA Firefighters association showed Sgt. Bowen that the BROTHERHOOD is alive in the Tri-Cities. The majority of the off-duty members were in attendance, and many of the retired members were there as well. Many of the guys spoke about Bowen’s career there, and talked about the ups and downs that they have all been through together.
Bowen is a skilled individual that puts training first. He has always been one to research the latest and improved techniques of doing the job, and never hesitates to pass along information to the rookies. He is one that has never been hesitant to get his hands on the equipment in a drill at the station, and also continues researching new techniques in articles on-line and in magazines.
Not to compare the two, but I tend to see and hear things that remind me of Cpt. Earl Morphew in the way that Sgt. Bowen carries himself. He is a family man, a loving father, a devoted husband, and balances all of his commitments with that of his career. He is one to not back down when he is given a task, and will do anything at all for his brother and sister firefighters on or off the job. Training was always very important to Cpt. Morphew, as it is to Sgt. Bowen. In Bowen’s closing comments last night, he stated “Make every day a training day!” With the change in scenery for Bowen, he will for sure carry on the brotherhood to the Holly Springs Fire Department.
While I have never worked along side of the brothers and sisters in Bristol on the fire ground, they are among the best. The guys are a first class group of guys, and have a great relationship on and off the job. I consider them as best friends, fellow firefighters, and brothers. They have helped out in Kingsport any time that we have needed assistance or coverage, and we’ve even caught a few fires during those times.
As we all sat around the venue last night listening and talking about Sgt. Bowen’s career here, it was a great way to send him off. I would like to wish Sgt. Bowen the best of luck in his new location, and wish the brothers and sisters in Bristol the best in ensuring that Bowen’s legacy lives on in this area.