Last year following a class at FDIC Kilgore Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Simmons approached me about bringing some training to East Texas but at the time he wasn’t too sure on where or how to host a conference. A few months later Chief Simmons got exactly what he was looking for but it may not have come quite how he had wanted it to. This winter the Kilgore Fire Department took over operations and control at the Meadow Brook Golf Course, you can read about it, the reason and process here (fire department to take over golf course) When the Chief called me and explained the situation I recall asking him why would you ever want to take over a golf course as the fire department? His answer was simple and upstanding “It is what we do, we help people and our city needed help” In less than 6 months the fire department had returned the golf course to a positive piece of the city. Business is up for the course, firefighter renovations to the event hosting areas has both increased usage and provided the fire department with a venue to host larger classes and trainings including this first regional conference which I was proud to be a part of.
The most unique part of the fire department involvement at the golf course is the complete overhaul of the onsite restaurant. On March 1st the Kilgore Fire Department opened the Firehouse Bar and Grill at the Golf Course, the link to the article about that is here (Firehouse Bar and Grill opens in Kilgore) At this time both on and off duty firefighters are helping out in the restaurant which has been incredibly successful. The response has helped them to hire more restaurant specific staff and take the load of of career firefighters. Because the firefighters are on duty they are not allowed to collect tips but the appreciation for their service is not going to waste and all tips collected are put towards charitable funds. I can’t say that this would work in every city, or even any other city but I can say is that the Kilgore Fire Department took some lemons and turned it into lemonade and right now they are arguably the most popular group in the city.
With the acquisition of the golf course, event center, the restaurant and support of his Chief and the City, Chief Simmons had all he needed to host a conference. On March 14th we kicked off the 1st Annual Kilgore Spring Training aimed at bringing training to East Texas career and volunteer departments in a convenient location at a low cost. Over the 3 days I presented 4 classes and 1 hands on training session with the help of Kilgore Firefighters. Each session saw over 40 firefighters and 10 departments were represented in attendance over the course of the weekend. The feedback on the training, venue and the Kilgore Fire Department was very positive and I had a great time. The atmosphere in East Texas was very welcoming and the firefighters were a proud bunch eager to challenge themselves.
If you attended the event Chief Simmons now has all the presentations on file and you can contact him for that material. If you did not attend this year but would like to know about upcoming events in Kilgore or want to contact Chief Mike Simmons about bringing classes to Kilgore you can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org