Behind the Badge: East Tennessee volunteer firefighters serve their communities

Behind the Badge

(WATE) – They are mechanical engineers, store clerks and even stay at home moms. 

Chances are you don’t know their faces or their names, but you have peace of mind knowing they are at the ready to answer the call if needed. We are talking about East Tennessee’s Volunteer Firefighters.

Chriss Lackey is the Assistant Fire Chief for the South Roane County Volunteer Fire Department.

“I never had any intention of being a firefighter,” says Lackey, “I was always on the medical side.. but here I am.”  

For seven years, Lackey has called Roane County home, and during that time she has put her life on the line to guarantee her neighbors are safe.

“You have to have that heart. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy. I think that a lot of people don’t understand that their volunteer departments are not paid. That we don’t get anything from this except the satisfaction that we are here to help our community out.”

It’s that giving back mentality that fuels the mother of two, who besides giving her time to keep South Roane County safe, is breaking barriers in what traditionally has been a male dominated profession.

“It is a tough thing to break in to,'” says Lackey. “Tthere are a lot of preconceived notions. As a woman you have to work harder, you have assert yourself more, and prove yourself more. I will tell you I never expected to be a chief of any kind. I just wanted to go out and do my job, but I try to do my job right and set the example.”

For Lackey, setting the example will hopefully lead to more recruits signing up.

“Right now it’s tough to get the call out. People are very busy, they have their work, they have their family life, their church life,” says Lackey.  

She adds, that if firefighting is not your cup of tea, the Volunteer units are also issuing the call for volunters in other areas as well.

“We don’t just need firefighters, we need people to help us fundraise,” urges Lackey. “We need people to help us to be on our boards, we need people to help to organize events, maintain stations, mow the grass. We need all the little things to be done.”

If you think you can help by becoming a Volunteer Firefighter or working behind the scenes, go to:… You can also call 1-844-VOL-TENN (1-844-865-8366).

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