Losing a hand never slowed Kenny Bosch

Tom KingOur Town Heroes

As of today, Kenny Bosch does not know which Rural Metro Fire station will be his first-responder home. He is a rookie at age 35, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and firefighter, a proud native of “The Bronx” in New York. The Bronx has a one-word reputation – tough.

And he does not have a left hand. In December 2021 he was taking classes in New York, thinking he wanted to be a general contractor. He was using a miter saw and in the blink of an eye something happened and the saw cut off his left hand.

Kenny Bosch

Bosch recently graduated from the tough 10-week Tennessee Fire & Codes Academy and was awarded the Garland King Award as the best in his class. His 39 classmates cast the votes for his award. Rural Metro Asst. Chief Rick Herrell said Rural Metro was told by the Academy’s faculty: “He’s changing hearts and minds. Some who thought his hand would be a problem quickly found out it wasn’t. He’s a superstar and one outstanding student.”

Having never had a firefighter with a disability at Rural Metro, Herrell and others also wondered if he could do the job. “After what he’s done and what was said about him, we’re very excited he’s on our team,” Herrell said.

Bosch is very open about the disability issue. “It took months of healing after the amputation to adjust to a prosthetic hand, but hey, I can overcome anything that happens to me and always have,” Bosch says. “I had to find an aesthetically pleasing prosthetic hand and learn how to use it for different things and build a relationship with it. Seven months after the amputation I gained my mobility back with the hand.”

One God-given part of him has helped – he is ambidextrous.

Bosch’s road to Knoxville and Rural Metro was long and winding – from The Bronx to Miami with his family, then three years with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, then back to New York after his honorable discharge, and working on ambulances in Yonkers. He tried to join the FDNY (Fire Department of New York) in 2020 but Covid shut down their hiring process for a while. His next stop was Decatur, Alabama, working with AMR again on ambulances and attending the Alabama Fire Academy.

That led to him applying to Rural Metro Fire in the fall of 2023, then a long telephone interview with Chief Jerry Harnish. Then a job offer in December 2023 and in February 2024 he was off for training at the Tennessee Fire & Codes Academy. Graduating with Bosch from the Academy in Bell Buckle was his girlfriend, Pavelle Bernazar, and 10 other Rural Metro recruits – Reid Barnes, Jacob Gambrell, Jackson Irwin, Reagan Loveday, Derrick Thomas, Joseph Cox, Fred Harrison, Benjamin Lincoln, Trevor Nicely and Timothy White.

Herrell is very high on Bosch. “He’s an upbeat guy with a great work ethic. He has a very encouraging attitude and we have no reservations about his ability to do this job. He can do this job at a very high level,” Herrell said.

Bosch says he knew in high school he wanted to be a firefighter. “That’s when it caught my interest, knowing that the job and that I’d be helping people when they really needed me appealed to me as a career. I wanted to learn how to do it and do it to perfection.”

His passions for relaxing and enjoying life are hiking and canoeing. In fact, he’s in the market now for a canoe and is also considering buying a kayak.

Two things Bosch said have stuck with me and both speak loudly about this man:

  • “… I can overcome anything that happens to me and I always have.”
  • “… I had to find an aesthetically pleasing prosthetic hand and learn how to use it for different things, and build a relationship with it.”

Building a relationship with a new hand. Think about that.

Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.


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