Heroes are everywhere. But many heroes are invisible, working behind the scenes, doing important work, crucial work, thriving and flourishing, and loving their jobs.
The Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) has an unsung hero – Assistant Chief Lonnie Glenn. He was recently promoted to assistant chief of training. He oversees the KFD Training Center and its staff and coordinates all training.
In fact, this morning Glenn welcomed a new class of 26 recruits to KFD’s Fire Academy. They were selected from more than 100 applications. These 26 face a 16-week training regimen, and that’s hot work right now for the recruits and staff. Those who survive and graduate on Nov. 6 then have 14 additional weeks of training beginning Nov. 9 for their emergency rescue technician license before the real work begins at a fire hall.
Glenn, 52, was a KFD captain and has been around long enough to appreciate his role and its importance. He began working at the training center five years ago and for one year acted as the director of training between assistant chiefs – after Chief Joe Hackney’s retirement in 2015 and Chief Rob Cheesman’s arrival in December 2016. Cheesman’s recent promotion to Deputy Chief left a slot for KFD Chief Stan Sharp to fill and he filled it with Glenn.
Glenn brings to this new assignment 31 years of emergency services experience. He has certifications as a Fire Officer I, Incident Safety Officer, HazMat Specialist, Vehicle Extrication Tech, Confined Space/Trench Operations, Paramedic, Live Fire Instructor and Fire/Explosive Investigation Program.
“Lonnie has earned this, and he’ll do a great job. It is really a very important job for us. The training gets our firefighters off on the right foot…and it’s so crucial in our field,” Chief Sharp said. “It’s critical to have someone really dedicated to training who understands and knows what the right kind of training is and that’s Lonnie.”
Glenn is a Knoxville native, reared on Midway Road in East Knox County and graduated from Carter High School in 1986. He was on the school golf team and still enjoys playing today – when he has the time.
“Emergency services is all I’ve done during my adult life and I know I have a big job,” he said. “What I do impacts the lives of the people of Knoxville, to make sure that our firefighters are trained properly to do their jobs and save lives.”
So, how does he feel being called Chief Glenn? “I prefer Lonnie! I don’t know who they are talking to when they say chief. I know people will call me that and I am more than honored! It just doesn’t resonate yet.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers. He writes this Monday column – Our Town Heroes –for KnoxTNToday.com. Suggest future stories at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-659-3562.