Lewisburg Fire Chief David Linville has always been putting out fires and that’s a good thing. 

Linville has been with the volunteer department since 1981 and became fire chief in 1989, following Eddie Word as the department’s man in charge.

Five years later, Linville made the profession a paid career, becoming a firefighter with the Horn Lake department. In 1999, he was made deputy fire chief and in 2003 added the title fire chief at Horn Lake along with the Lewisburg position.

That’s a lot of time dedicated to keeping DeSoto County safe and protected from fire and Tuesday night DeSoto County leaders made a point to recognize that dedication.

A night that is typically the monthly department meeting time at the fire hall on Byhalia Road instead became a surprise celebration, as Linville walked inside to find it not just filled with firefighters, but with friends, family, government officials and supporters.

The highlight of the evening came from the five members of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, who presented Linville with a commendation plaque and a declaration of Tuesday being named “David Linville Day” in DeSoto County.

“It’s kind of shocking, I had no idea that they were doing any of this,” Linville said. “They mean a lot to me, each and every one of them.”

Firefighting has always been part of Linville’s life, whose father started running A-1 Fire Protection Service of Olive Branch in 1970.

Always around the family business, Linville jumped into being a volunteer firefighter one year after graduating from high school in 1981.

At least two members of the Board of Supervisors know all too well what being a volunteer firefighter is all about. Jesse Medlin and Board President Mark Gardner both have done what Linville’s men and women do without any compensation.

“I know what it is to volunteer and it is a thankless job,” Medlin said. “David has held these guys together and I’ve always heard good things from the firemen and the community. It would take a lot of tax money to do what they do.”

“I understand what kind of dedication it takes and for someone to stick with this for 37 years is phenomenal,” added Gardner. “He has performed an invaluable service to his community and all the citizens of DeSoto County. It’s very commendable.”

Linville, always deflecting praise from him and to his men, said volunteer firefighters become “a community brotherhood.”

It was also pointed out that there’s never a sign out in front of the fire hall asking for more volunteers. Linville said that’s not how he operates.

“A volunteer department is based on the people they get to come and volunteer,” Linville said. “If you have to beg a man to come and help you, he’s not going to help you very much. That door is always open if anybody wants to come and knock on that door. It’s kind of like joining the lodge.”

The Lewisburg fire chief said he still goes out to as many calls as he can, but is confident if enough help responds to an emergency situation, his presence is not always needed.

“If I can get four or five people to go in service I’ll list them,” Linville said. “If somebody can’t go, I’ll go but if I think they’ve got plenty of help, I’ll come back to the hall, stop and wait and make sure they don’t need anything else.”

Supervisors felt it was important to recognize someone who has, for a long time, provided such a valuable service as Linville has, as Supervisor Lee Caldwell said, “It’s great when people dedicate their time in service and give so much to their community.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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