PRESTONSBURG – Kentucky Emergency Management is getting assistance in one of their Eastern Kentucky field offices from a former Prestonsburg firefighter with over three decades of experience.
Bobby Carpenter, who stepped down as Prestonsburg Fire Chief at the end of September, is now working out of the Morehead field office as Area 7 Manager for Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM).
Carpenter will be overseeing planning and deployment for disaster mitigation in and around Eastern Kentucky.
“I’ll be coordinating state resources on all disasters, and hazardous materials,” says Carpenter. “I’ll also be working with FEMA on disaster projects, mitigation, and close outs.”
During the past year Eastern Kentucky has suffered plenty from natural disasters, with four presidentially declared disasters.
“They were all mostly moderate disasters,” says Carpenter. “Of course, the Johnson County flood was the worst.”
All totaled, Carpenter has spent 30 years working as a firefighter. “I came on originally under Mayor Harold Cooley, then left to work in Lexington in 1991 during Mayor Ann Latta’s term,” says Carpenter. “I came back under Mayor Jerry Fannin in 2003.”
Carpenter says that his transition into KYEM has been a process going back well over a year and half, and its relation to the last years election and the subsequent new administration is merely coincidental. “It wasn’t a knee jerk to the mayor’s election,” says Carpenter. “It had just become too much to continue to do Code Enforcement, Building Inspector, Electrical Inspector, EM Director, and Fire Chief.”
Carpenter says that exhaustion did come into it, but that being a firefighter was a job that could re-energize him. “You get that call when you’re able to really make a difference and it reinvigorates you.”
Firefighting is a profession that is often described as a calling, something that gets into the blood and drives a person. Carpenter says he was no different. “In the beginning I was one of those guys who wore his pager on his honeymoon,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t think I would do that today.”
Carpenter says that he remains a part-time volunteer fire fighter. He also continues to work with the city on a part-time contractual basis for the cities flood permits, as well as new construction and electrical. According to Carpenter, Mayor Les Stapleton appointed himself interim fire chief, while Assistant Chief Chuck Davis and Lt. Daryl Sparks manage day-to-day operations and administration.
Jackson Latta can be reached at (606) 886-8506