Brentwood Fire Department Goes Public in the 1980s

vintage brentwood fire department photo

Brentwood Fire and Rescue is a baby compared to many fire departments. However, in its 33 years, it has accomplished much. The department has received several awards of excellence, and in in 2014 they received accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

The Brentwood Fire Department, as it was initially called, began as a private company in 1961. It was fee-based and owned by Jack Elmer Burke. He had started out as a police officer and then began building private fire departments. He also built the ones at Tusculum and Thompson Lane.

In 1985, the City of Brentwood hired consulting firm Gage-Babcock and Associates to evaluate the fire and safety needs of the city. Their recommendation for the best future for Brentwood was for the city to take over running the department.

Dean Filer, the first Fire Chief, was recruited from Arizona in 1986. He built the department from scratch. On September 1, 1986, the old privately-owned fire department closed down. The same day the new Brentwood Municipal Fire Department was born.

Sometimes things have a false start, and the Brentwood Municipal Fire Department was no exception. Their first call, to Tennessee Back Care Center, was just that. When the company arrived at the building, there was no fire. They have come a long way from the 665 calls they took in 1987, answering almost five times that amount in 2012.

The first fire station had been built by Burke on Pewitt Street, off of Church. Filer was responsible for the building of the second one being built on Wilson Pike, just south of Concord Road. Under Filer’s watch, the new Fire Station Number One was also built. It was located in the new Brentwood Municipal Building that opened in 1987.

While the new building was being constructed, the fire department operated out of a trailer. Nicknamed “the dog house,” the trailer sat on the land that is now Brentwood Funeral Home.

In 1989, Filer resigned, knowing that he accomplished what he set out to do. His wife had become quite ill, and they decided to move back to Arizona to be closer to family. His replacement came from Bowling Green, Kentucky. His name was David Clark.
Filer had set up standard work weeks of eight-hour shifts, while Clark moved the department to the traditional 24-hours on duty, and 48 off duty. He also oversaw the building of firehouse number three before he resigned in 1993 to return to Kentucky to care for aging parents.

He was succeeded by Kenny Lane. Lane, who was the only Fire Captain left from the original crew, was promoted to Chief. He stayed for 18 years and did much to build the department into what it is today. He received the designation of Chief Fire Officer.

Lane was there to oversee the building of firehouse number four, and the development of a training facility that opened in April of 2001.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Goss took on the role of Chief in July of 2011. He is a 33-year veteran of fire services. His career began in Bangor, Michigan.

Both Chief Lane and Chief Goss have seen many changes. The name of the organization was changed to Brentwood Fire and Rescue because of those very changes. Nationally and locally, the number of fires is down, which has allowed fire departments to take on many avenues of search and rescue. Fire departments are now in charge of fire suppression, public education, emergency medical services, and technical rescue.

The very nature of fires has also changed. New construction techniques have made fires less likely, but when they do happen, they burn much faster due to lighter weight construction and less expensive materials.That makes fighting fires, when they happen, more dangerous. In a 2017 article Chief Goss even suggests that new construction have sprinkler systems.

Brentwood Fire and Rescue is a now a totally modern fire department, offering the newest of fire and safety measures to ensure the residents of Brentwood are safe and secure in their homes and businesses.

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