Covington’s first paid black firefighter retires
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.