‘I’m glad he did’ | Recent firefighter graduate responds to fire chief’s 911 call

In 2020, Chief Jerry Harnish fell ill after rounds of cancer treatments and called 911 for help.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 12:26 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Among Rural Metro Fire’s largest graduating class were fathers, mothers and legacies Thursday evening.

“I grew up I think I’ve spent multiple Christmas and holidays at the fire house,” Brandon Patrick, a class of 2021 graduate, said.

Graduates like Nick Johnson and Patrick weren’t old enough to drive the big green fire truck or buy alcohol, but like their classmates, they’re old enough to save lives.

“The guys told us from day one, we have the last name but we are not our parents,” Patrick said.

All 32 graduates spent more than 300 hours of training for half a year in some of the most intense situations. The ceremony made up of students from the Class of ‘20-’22. COVID-19 kept the last two classes from having a ceremony, but it didn’t keep them from working when the tables turned on Fire Chief Jerry Harnish.

In 2020, Harnish fell ill after rounds of cancer treatments and called 911 for help.

“I was a little bit surprised when the ambulance showed up and were staffed with my own guys,” said Harnish. “I certainly didn’t know I would need him after he finished training, but I’m glad he did.”

One of those guys was a recent graduate who wasn’t able to attend Thursday’s graduation, but Harnish still offered his gratitude.

As a reminder, Rural Metro is not government funded. It relies on memberships to keep serving the community.