CORBIN — The Southeastern Kentucky Firefighters Association last week hosted the annual conference for the Kentucky Firefighters Association for the first time since 2005 with KFA’s outgoing president, Eric Philpot, representing Corbin Fire Department, having a chance to bring the conference to his hometown this year.

“It’s our annual meeting that travels around the state. It is in a different location each year and so this year we brought it to Corbin,” said Philpot, adding that last year they had the conference in Newport, and the year before it was in Owensboro. “The reason for our association is to promote education in the fire service and to deal with legislation issues that the fire service deals with. So we kinda have our annual meeting every year to kinda go over any resolutions across the state (that) fire departments may see and need (that) need to be addressed in Frankfort.”

The conference is then a place for planning and debriefing after for any who attend the fire school. The Firefighter’s Association has the conference once a year to promote fellowship, training, and to discuss any issues that may come up with politicians and legislators. It also serves for planning and debriefing in regard to the annual fire school KFA hosts in Lexington each June.

When asked what kind of work the Firefighter’s Association has achieved by having the conference each year in order to decide what to address with legislators, Philpot said, “Every year we ask for a tax credit for volunteer firefighters. That is one thing on the agenda for this year again. We have a thing that’s called State Aid for volunteer fire departments and incentive pay for career fire departments. We have gotten those increased over the past few years.”

While Philpot didn’t specify on the amount for the state aid or the incentive pay, he did add, “We’ve also got a cancer policy put in place. If a firefighter passes away due to cancer, it’s considered a line-of-duty death. So their family gets benefits from that.”

Philpot commended the Corbin City Tourism Commission as a huge help in hosting the conference at the Corbin Center and The Corbin Arena this year. About 250 people registered to attend.

Last Thursday, the firefighters and their families all gathered together for a somber memorial service wherein over 80 names of firefighters who passed away, both in and out of the line of duty, were called. Red carnations represented those firefighters who had died in the line of duty in the past year since the last Firefighters conference. White signified those who passed away under normal circumstances while serving their fire department. The service was followed by speeches from officials including Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Senate President Robert Stivers.

“Now more than ever we need our firefighters and our first responders,” Gen. Cameron said in thanking the firefighters. “We need our heroes — we need the men and women of the Commonwealth who serve so courageously — and certainly need to show our appreciation to you.”

Cameron went on to list examples of how firefighters all over the state have responded to natural disasters, including tornadoes that rolled through western Kentucky last December as well as the recent flooding in eastern Kentucky.

The conference ran from Wednesday through Sunday. Other events during the conference included a women’s outing in downtown Corbin, a car show, a block party, and more.

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