LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A firefighting veteran has been named the new chief of the Zoneton Fire Protection District.
Kevin Moulton, a 24 year veteran of Zoneton Fire, was selected to take over the position following the death of Chief Rob Orkies in December 2020.
Orkies died after a battle with cancer and COVID-19.
Moulton began his fire service career in 1997 as a volunteer with Zoneton. After being hired as a firefighter by St. Matthews Fire, Moulton continued as a volunteer with Zoneton before being hired as the department’s first full-time fire marshal nearly a decade ago.
“To hear my name last night that the recommendation was me was bittersweet because trying to fill those shoes that I’ve been with almost 25 years, nobody is going to fill them. But it’s an honor for me to try,” Moulton told WAVE 3 News on Wednesday.
Zonetone Fire is a particularly tight-knit department and the community is a big supporter of them. There are handwritten notes from community members hanging up in the fire station, reminding the firefighters how much the community loves them and appreciates them. Zoneton Fire is known for its big Halloween parties and Santa runs.
In the past six months or so, the department has experienced a lot of heartbreak: not just losing their fire chief, but also losing Major Garry Key. Key joined the Zoneton Fire District in 1984, making him the longest-serving volunteer member. Key stepped in as acting chief of Zoneton Fire when Orkies died. Then, Key was diagnosed with COVID and battled the virus for a month before he died.
“You know we lost the Chief and Major Key and we’re moving forward,” Moulton said with tears in his eyes. “You know, we need to honor those guys and we need to put on our boots and pull up our bunkers and we need to get on these firetrucks and that’s the way we’re going to honor them. That’s what they would want us to do and not miss a beat for our community.”
A majority of the fire district is made up of volunteer firefighters. Moulton told WAVE 3 News he wants to see more volunteers.
“One thing those two men were passionate about is volunteers,” he said of Orkies and Key. “That’s where I started out with. You always gotta remember, you gotta remember where you came from.”
Moulton is also making sure the department remembers and honors Orkies and Key. There are pictures and memorials for both men all across the station. The fire district also made stickers to put on the fire trucks and helmets to honor Orkies and Key.
“Those will be on there forever. They’re on every single one of our vehicles and every single one of our helmets. They’ll always be with us,” Moulton said.