Smith County departments pull together after firefighter's death

SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - After news of firefighter Jalen Smith's death, the Smith County volunteer firefighter community is pulling together to help their friends in Jackson Heights.

Chief Nelson Brumley with the Winona Volunteer Fire Department feels for the Jackson Heights firefighters,. He said, "Coming up on the scene when it's one of your own guys, they didn't even know. When they responded, they didn't have any idea it was him.

Brumley says when tragedy strikes, it's family you turn to.

"We all know and work with everybody here, we depend on them, they protect us, we protect them, it's just like a big family."

Brumley says he and other Smith County firefighters are stepping in when their Jackson Heights brothers need it most.

"They need help," he said. "They need somebody to help them take their minds off this stuff and basically that's what we're here for."

Jackson Heights has been taken off calls before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. when the day staff is no longer working.

Brumley says, "We have split their district up into three different sections. Arp is covering part of their section on the eastern end, [Winona] is covering the northern section and Chapel Hill is covering the southern section."

If one of those three stations closest to Jackson Heights, is swamped and needs some help, the rest of the firefighters in the county, are ready to step in and help too.

Brumley says, "We've already responded to one of their calls they had Sunday morning."

Firefighters across Smith County say they'll work extra hours to cover for Jackson Heights as long as they need to.

'It's family. We're going to take care of them," Brumley said. "They're in a time of need so we're going to be there."

The Jackson Heights firefighters are going through stress debriefings to deal with the loss.

Jackson Heights was taken off calls starting Saturday. There's no word on when the schedule will go back to normal.

Brumley says when an emergency happens near their district, emergency dispatchers are also aware of which departments are covering certain areas, so no area is left unprotected.


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