After years of toiling as a firefighter, Eric Henderson is now a fire chief.

Henderson was sworn in last week by Burnside Mayor Dean Lovins as the new fire chief of the Burnside Volunteer Fire Department.

“I’m tickled to death (to be fire chief),” said Henderson.

Henderson has served on the department for 15 years — beginning at age 13 — when he became involved as a junior firefighter.

“From that time, I enjoyed it and have stayed with it,” said Henderson.

“I’ve always wanted to be fire chief, but always wanted to make sure I had enough training and leadership experience.”

Henderson said he feels the leadership experience he has received over the last couple of years at his full time job as team leader at TTAI has helped him become more prepared to take over the reins of the fire department.

“I felt the time was right and applied,” said Henderson.

Henderson said it means a lot to him to be fire chief because he has been around the fire department for so long. He added that being chief encourages him to try to bring the fire department up to a better environment, to try to treat everyone equally, and to provide more training.

“What I plan on doing as chief is trying to keep the department positive and moving it forward,” said Henderson.

He said right now the department is made up of around 20 firefighters who meet twice a month for training.

Henderson is working on having another meeting at least once a month on Saturday for those who can’t make it to the weeknight training, as well as getting a grant for new equipment.

“Me and all the members are there for the people,” said Henderson. “If they need us, they can call on us.”

Last year the Burnside Fire Department responded to just over 70 calls, as well as other things such as helping direct traffic if needed, fire alarms, and taking part in Career Day at Burnside Elementary School.

Henderson said in August the department plans on hosting a fundraiser with all proceeds going to the Shriners Children’s Hospital.

“Without the community, the fire department is nothing,” sad Henderson.

Firefighting is a family affair with the Hendersons — Eric’s father, Hobert, is the department’s assistant chief, and his older brother, Mike, is the former chief of the department.

Eric is married to Heather Henderson. They have a daughter, Hadley.

The new fire chief said anyone who is interested in learning more about the department, or would like to join, should call the Burnside Fire Department at 606-561-4143.

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