Cov­ing­ton’s first paid black fire­fighter re­tires

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­news.com

Af­ter 38 years of ser­vice, one of the Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment’s most “hon­est” and “ex­pe­ri­enced” em­ploy­ees has re­tired from the depart­ment.

For­mer Bat­tal­ion Chief Michael Turner, 59, served his last day with the fire depart­ment Dec. 31. A re­tire­ment cer­e­mony will be held for him Thurs­day, Jan. 30, at the Turner Lake Com­plex.

Though the Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment has had sev­eral black vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers since its in­cep­tion, Turner be­came the first paid black fire­fighter in 1976. He said he came to the depart­ment af­ter a sug­ges­tion from his brother, Al­mond Turner, who served as a po­lice of­fi­cer for the city of Cov­ing­ton at the time.

“My brother called me one day and said, ‘Do you think you may have some in­ter­est in work­ing at the fire depart­ment?’ I said, ‘Um, I don’t know. I’ve never gave it any thought.’ So I did and I con­sid­ered it,” Turner said. “He told me to just come in and see Chief Jack Parker, who was the fire chief at the time. And I came in and spoke with him. I got an ap­pli­ca­tion. I filled it out and got hired af­ter­wards.”

At first, Turner said, he feared that he would not be ac­cepted by other fire­fight­ers at the depart­ment.

“I was skep­ti­cal. … But once I started work­ing, ev­ery­one treated me nice. I didn’t know what the train­ing would be, but they kind of gave me ideas of what to ex­pect and then I just kind of fell in line,” he said. “I didn’t know how they were go­ing to treat me by me be­ing dif­fer­ent than what they were.

I didn’t know how they were go­ing to treat me by me be­ing dif­fer­ent than what they were. In my feel­ings, I was not any dif­fer­ent.

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