On July 28th, 2011, the Asheville Fire Department responded to a fire in an office building located at 445 Biltmore Avenue. The events that would take place that day would forever change the lives of those working on-scene and the Asheville Fire Department. Captain Jeff Bowen, Rescue 3 (Asheville Fire Department) died in the Line of Duty while doing what he loved to do. Those who knew him described him as the best of the best, and have stated that he was a true mentor to everyone who knew him.
Due to Kingsport being just across the mountain from Asheville, I seemed to follow the news and coverage much closer than other stories. I don’t want this to be perceived as location has any determination on importance to me because I know that there are lessons to be learned and reports to be studied based on any brother or sister who makes the ultimate sacrifice. With having visited Asheville on a number of occasions, it also hit closer to home due to some of the brothers on my department had friends in Asheville. Our department has even included some of the incident review material in our training sessions in the past. When Statter911.com released The Loss of Captain Bowen: The Inside Story from Jay Betterncourt, my Deputy Chief made copies of the article and distributed it to each member of our shift.
As I have said in previous articles, the camaraderie among the members of the fire service is often similar to those members who belong to a CrossFit gym. It seems that when we want to give-up or we are physically exhausted, we get the motivation we need from those around us that keep us pushing on. I believe that motivation paired with the various CrossFit workouts is one of the reasons it interests members of the fire service.
For the last three years since Captain Bowen’s death, the CrossFit community in the Asheville area has worked together to host an event near the anniversary of his death to raise money and awareness of what took place on the day that Captain Bowen made the ultimate sacrifice. The workout known as “Bowen” has turned into quite the event that is being held in the Asheville Crossfit gyms. Due to it being the third year the WOD event has been held, it was the BowenIII WOD.
The “Bowen” WOD consists of (2) rounds of:
- 800 M run (with carrying a sandbag 200M)
- 7 Deadlifts (60-70% of 1 rep max NTE 275/185lbs)
- 10 Burpee Pullups
- 14 Single Arm KB THrusters
(7/arm NTE 53/35lb Kbs)
- 20 Box Jumps NTE (24/20)
This year, the event was held at Summit CrossFit in Asheville. I first came across the event after it was shared on the Facebook page of the Asheville Fire Department. This is one of the first fundraising events that I have attended since joining, and I was actually nervous about going. Even with my nerves, I knew that this would be a great event to attend and a great cause to support. The proceeds from the event were donated to the Bowen Family. This is a great example of how the community has helped show continued support of the Bowen Family.
Several members of KFD and members at CrossFit: Shifty Powers quickly jumped on board and registered for the event. The workout heats ran from 10AM-3PM to allow those attending to chose a time for their workout. As soon as we arrived, it was great to see the support that the event received from the Asheville Fire Department. Several members immediately approached us and thanked us for making the trip for the event. An AFD Ladder truck sat outside of the gym with the ladder raised hanging a flag high in the air.
During the workout, we constantly had words of encouragement being yelled at us over the loud music that kept us going. The Asheville Firefighters would yell, “LET’S GO KINGSPORT!” and “KEEP PUSHING KINGSPORT!” To say that these brothers kept us pushing hard is an understatement. We were complete strangers to them prior to walking in the door, but we were all there for the same reason.
Following the workout, we were able to meet several of the brothers from AFD. One of the highlights of the trip was the pleasure of meeting Captain Bowen’s mother and getting to see AFD Rescue 3, the apparatus Cpt. Bowen was riding on July 28th, 2011. The apparatus now displays a memorial decal on the cab and body to remind everyone that sees the rig of the sacrifice that was made that day.
In the time since Captain Bowen’s death, the Asheville Fire Department has implemented a number of improvements to procedures used on the fire ground. From changes in RIT teams to air supply, they are still working to help ensure the safety of the crews. Click here to read about the changes that have been implemented. Below is a link to the recently released video with first hand accounts of the situation they were faced with…
I would like to personally thank all of those who were involved with organizing the event. It was a pleasure to meet everyone at Summit CrossFit, and we were pleasantly surprised with receiving one of the boxes (box jump) we were able to take back for the gym at the firehouse.
The following day, on July 28th, 2014, a memorial event was held at Asheville Fire Department Station 3. The local news media covered the event. Click here to view the article.