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 Recognizing more than 50 years of service: Olive Hill Fire names training facility in honor of Stapleton

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Allen Stapleton has worn many hats over his 57 years of firefighting; captain, assistant chief (for both Olive Hill and Carter City), chief, even President of the Kentucky Firefighters Association. 

But no matter what hat he’s worn, Stapleton said he’s always been proud to be a part of the Olive Hill Fire Department.

“This is my family,” he said.

The department has been a part of his life since he was a young boy. He had a friend whose father was fire chief and, when they had snow days keep them out of school, they would hang out around the fire house. 

“I got interested in firefighting and, when I got old enough, I joined,” he explained. 

He’s stayed on since then, both at the old location – built in the 1930s – and at the new location which he helped build back in 1997. In fact, Stapleton, along with current chief Jeremy Rodgers and previous chief Chad Manning, are the only members of the department who were around when construction of the current building took place. He said volunteers within the department did most of the physical work – everything but the plumbing – so he has a lot of memories associated with the building and the guys who serve there. 

In fact, the only time he’s not been a member of the fire department, he said, is when he took a short break to serve on city council. But since then, he’s decided he can serve in both roles, regularly abstaining from most council votes related to the fire department because of his involvement with them. 

That makes the recent dedication of the department’s training center in his name especially meaningful for him, Stapleton said. 

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “There was a lot of hard work went in on it… and it’s an honor to have it dedicated to me.” 

“I want to thank all the guys on the department,” he continued. “I really appreciate them all. They just feel like my kids.” 

Assistant-chief John Humphries said, especially for the younger guys, Stapleton really helps bring a lot of knowledge and history into focus, so it’s especially fitting that the training center be named in his honor. 

“The younger guys would never know the deeper history of Olive Hill (without) having Al back here. He gives that insight to the younger guys… bringing in old pictures, old equipment, telling stories. In the fire service stuff like that really matters a lot, and gives a base or ground for these younger guys to understand what firefighting means – the camaraderie, the brotherhood, especially in the Olive Hill Fire Department – and Al really brings that to us.” 

While the training center itself isn’t new, Humphries said the dedication is a way for the Olive Hill Department to acknowledge Stapleton’s contributions, not just with the local community, but with communities across the region. 

He said other departments also make use of the facilities, built under former chief Wes Gilliam, for a variety of training scenarios. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com 



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