Davis named Firefighter of the Year

Published 10:52 am Thursday, September 4, 2008

Louis Davis can remember Jan. 5, 1985, like it was yesterday.

He can remember pressing his face against the cold window pane of a neighbor’s house and watching his house burn to the ground. He can remember his daddy running down the road, screaming “Our house is on fire! Our house is on fire.” And, he can remember the stinging pain of losing everything a little boy held dear.

After 23 years, Davis still gets emotional when he talks about the devastating fire.

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He paused several times and fought back tears as he told the story as seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy.

“The fire caught from the stack pipe on the wood stove,” Davis said. “It came loose and caught the ceiling on fire. It was 10:30 at night and we were all in bed but Mama smelled the smoke.”

Davis paused, knowing that the outcome of the fire could have been much worse.

“We got out with only what we had on our backs,” he said. “My younger brother, Cliff, had this little pillow that he carried around. He stuffed it under his shirt. That was the only thing of his that was saved. Nothing of mine.”

The family lived with a relative until they could get a place of their own again.

“Losing everything you have in a fire is one of the worst things that can happen,” Davis said. “Next to losing someone you love, it’s the worst thing. That’s why I’m a firefighter. I don’t want anyone else to ever have to go through that kind of loss if I can do anything about it.”

Louis Davis was named the 2008 Pike County Fire Fighter of the Year Tuesday night by the Pike County Firefighters Association. He was nominated by two volunteer firefighters’ associations, Meeksville and Pike County Fire and Rescue. He is a member of both.

“This award means a lot to me,” Davis said. “But it means more for me than to me. My brother, Cliff, received the award last year and, for us both to be named ‘Firefighter of the Year’… well, that means that we are doing our daddy proud.”

And, there is nothing that Davis wants to do more than that. He wants to honor his dad.

Fred Davis was instrumental in the organization of the Meeksville Volunteer Fire Department. He and others in the community had recognized the need for a volunteer fire department and were moving forward with the plans when the Davis family’s house burned.

The residents of Meeksville saw firsthand how devastating a house fire can be and moved ahead with due speed to make a volunteer fire department a reality for their community.

In February 1986, the Meeksville Volunteer Fire Department became a reality and the small rural community had a much needed “security blanket.”

Fred Davis wore the mantle of a firefighter proudly.

Louis Davis has fond memories of his dad, the firefighter. He remembers how seriously he took his volunteer service and his dedication to community. He also remembers the gentle nudging that his dad gave him in the direction of community service as a volunteer firefighter.

“He never pushed us to be firefighters but Cliff and I knew that he would have liked that,” Davis said.

It was not until after his dad’s death in 2003, that Davis made the decision to follow in his footsteps. He joined the Pike County Fire and Rescue unit in February and the Meeksville Volunteer Fire Department the next month.

“I know what it’s like to lose everything you have in a fire and I wanted to do what I could to prevent anyone else from having to experience that loss,” Davis said. “And, I wanted to honor my daddy.”

Davis drives a gas truck and he works at night. Being a firefighter, he has many sleepless days.

“Sometimes I’ll get home and get in bed and we’ll get a call and I have to get right back up,” he said. “There was one time that I got only about two hours sleep over a 36-hour period. I went from work to a fire in China Grove to one in Springhill. When I got home, it was time to go back to work.

“But, if I can help prevent one family from losing everything, then all of the toil and training of being a firefighter has been worth it.”