After a 50-year firefighting career, one that he knew he wanted to pursue from an early age, Franklin Fire Captain David Currie has retired.
Currie, who had been with the Franklin Fire Department for 23 years, said he knew at the age of 3 that he wanted to be a firefighter, following a visit with his grandparents in Memphis.
“My granddad took me to the police station, because one of his buddies was a cop,” Currie explained. "I wasn’t interested. He told my granddad, ‘Take him next door to the fire station and show him the fire trucks.’ I was hooked.”
After that, Currie’s grandfather would take him to a new fire station every time he came to visit.
He was so interested in firefighting that he began volunteering for his hometown fire department of Caruthersville, Mo., at the young age of 12.
“I lived about a block from the fire station,” Currie said. “On Friday nights and Saturdays, I started hanging around there.”
He said he started going on calls after his dad made a deal with the fire chief that he could do so if he remained on the honor roll at school.
Currie continued fighting fire with the Warrensburg, Mo., fire department while he was a student at Central Missouri State University, studying fire science. After that, he was hired by the Memphis Fire Department, then by the Shelby County Fire Department.
His family relocated to Middle Tennessee in 1998, when he was hired by the Franklin Fire Department. He believes divine intervention brought him here.
Currie said that he and his wife, Dee, wanted to relocate to a different school system for their son, Jeff. She got a Nashville newspaper and saw an advertisement for the position of Franklin firefighter. After contacting the city of Franklin’s Human Resources department, he was told that the ad wasn’t supposed to still be running and that the posting had closed. However, because they hadn’t received many applications, they asked him to fax his resume that day.
He was hired shortly thereafter by then Franklin Fire Chief Donnie Claiborne.
Advances, awards and honors
Currie quickly rose through the ranks. He was promoted to engineer in 2001, lieutenant in 2004, and captain in 2006. Throughout his career, he was assigned to Stations 3, 4, and 5, and then was part of the crew that opened Station 6 at 1061 Cool Springs Boulevard in 2008, where he had been until his retirement last Friday.
The Station 6 district includes single family homes, high-rise and commercial buildings, and Interstate-65, which Currie said is “about as dangerous a situation can be that we put our people in.”
He remembered one such nighttime, when a call came in about a car that had flipped on I-65. Currie said firefighter-paramedics Mark Hall and Pete Jones intubated the patient who was unconscious and not breathing, while lying on their backs, in the dark, with the patient suspended above them, still-seat-belted in.
“I’ve seen incredible things by very talented members of the Franklin Fire Department,” Currie said. “I’ll always be proud to wear the T-shirt that says Franklin Fire Department.”
Currie was Officer of the Year in 2014. During his career he earned two Unit Citation for Valorous Conduct Awards, and four Phoenix Awards for saving the life of a patient in cardiac arrest.
These included saving the life of the same patient on two different occasions in 2015, reviving that individual who was pulseless and not breathing with CPR on Feb. 6
and again on April 28. After both incidents the patient made a complete recovery and was released from the hospital.
Additionally, Currie received the EMS Star of Life Award, which honors first responders throughout Tennessee who provide exemplary lifesaving emergency medical care. The award was for a burn victim call he responded to in 2013 with the Maury County Fire Department, where he has volunteered since moving to the area.
Camaraderie and lifelong friendships
The most memorable incidents Currie responded to include the fatal fire at the Bramblewood Apartments on May 29, 2004, which were located where the Generals Retreat condos are today on Columbia Avenue. He helped rescue a 66-year-old man from the building, but he unfortunately passed away days later from his injuries.
Currie also remembered the fire on July 6, 2007 at the “green dinosaur house” – the house at the intersection of Franklin Road and Mallory Station Road that had a large green dinosaur in the front yard for many years.
Currie said highlights of his career include the camaraderie and lifelong friendships that he has made. “The Franklin Fire department has taught me the true definition of loyalty and friendship,” he said. “I’m very fortunate.”
He had an especially close bond with Lieutenant Jeff Moss, who retired last year.
One of the things Currie is most proud of is that his son has followed in his footsteps. Jeff Currie is a captain-paramedic with the Spring Hill Fire Department.
Currie is also proud of the many firefighters he has mentored over the years, particularly those he volunteered with at Maury County Fire Department and worked with at the Franklin Fire Department. These include Battalion Chief Tyler Crews, Lieutenant-Paramedic Richey Schatz, Engineer Dennis Nealy, and many others.
Currie also noted his safety record as a source of pride.
“That’s one thing that I can look back on my career and say – that I never got anybody seriously hurt,” he said. I’m very proud of that fact.”
Currie and his wife, an R.N., live in Columbia.
“None of this would have been possible without her love and support,” said Currie, who added they are looking forward to spending more time with their son, Jeff, his wife Becca, and their grandson Turner. He said they bought an RV and are also looking forward to traveling.
“I’m proud that I was able to serve the city and the residents of Franklin,” Currie said. “I enjoyed every minute of it. Again, without the support of my family, I never would have been able to accomplish what I did.”
Franklin Fire Chief Glenn Johnson said Currie can look back on a stellar career.
“Captain Currie has served the City of Franklin faithfully and well for more than 23 years,” Johnson said. “We are grateful for his immeasurable contributions and leadership, which have resulted in best-possible outcomes on countless emergency scenes. We congratulate and thank him for his many accomplishments, and wish him the very best in his well-earned retirement.”