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Greenville-Overbrook VFD organize fundraiser to honor former fire chief

Sierra Rains
srains@ardmoreite.com
Christopher Glenn “Chris” Kirk

The Love County community experienced a heavy loss with the passing of Chris Kirk two months ago. 

Kirk left a legacy in the county as a friend, mentor and leader, and to honor his memory, the community has organized a fundraiser in support of the fire department he loved and devoted much of his time to. The Greenville-Overbrook Volunteer Fire Department will be selling shirts, hoodies, masks and decals to raise money for new equipment until Nov. 15. 

Kirk served as captain of the Lewisville Fire Department for nearly 30 years, spending his days off as the chief of the Greenville-Overbrook department in Marietta. After he retired, he continued to serve as chief in Marietta. 

“He was able to bring a lot of his knowledge from the Lewisville area and teach us,” said Clay McKinney, who recently took over as chief for the Greenville-Overbrook department. McKinney first met Kirk when he joined the department as a rookie firefighter around 10 years ago. 

“There’s been a few times as a rookie on the fire department, you’d make a mistake and he was never one to chew someone’s butt," McKinney said. "He would always get in there and help out, and he knew the right way to do it.”

Over the years, he and Kirk became very close friends. “I’ve got some great memories playing golf and just having fun with one another,” McKinney said. “He was always happy and smiling, just glass half full kind of guy. He was the kind of person that everybody liked him.”

McKinney said he’ll never forget the night he found out Kirk had passed away. His passing on Sept. 12 was unexpected. “It was a big loss and there’s a lot of people that are hurting worse than I am,” McKinney said. 

The impact of his death rippled across the county, and McKinney said it felt like they needed to do something to honor his memory. His wife, Staci McKinney, then decided to organize a fundraiser memorializing Kirk and raising money for the Greenville-Overbrook department.  

“Chris was very, very passionate about the fire department so I thought it would be an awesome way to raise money for the fire department that he loved so much,” Staci McKinney said. The department is in desperate need of money for new equipment, and all proceeds will be used to purchase necessary items. 

“Our department needs money very badly. The first thing we’re after right now is new radios. That’s our main communication device — hand-held radios for each firefighter,” Clay McKinney said. “And additionally, we need to have new bunker gear.”

Firefighters wear bunker gear when responding to vehicle fires or house fires, he said. The equipment has a shelf life and is nearing expiration, so the need is relatively urgent. 

Staci McKinney said the shirts being sold have a FDLC, Fire Department Love County, logo on the front and Kirk’s specific shield with his fire department number and name on the back. The 14 volunteer fire departments across Love County adopted the umbrella term “FDLC” after Kirk’s passing. 

“He never really praised just one department, he kind of coined the phrase FDLC, which is Fire Department Love County,” Clay McKinney said. “He was always preaching about teamwork and working together, on scene, off scene, on the way to the scene - It was about the county, not about an individual department."

Small and large decals with the FDLC logo are also being sold as a part of the fundraiser. “We made decals that say that on them as well, so that way it kind of brings all of the departments together,” Staci McKinney said. 

T-Shirt orders are $20, long sleeve shirts are $25 and hoodies are $35. A small decal costs $4 and a large decal costs $8. Masks are $12. 

All orders must be received by Sunday, Nov. 15. Individuals can contact any member of the Greenville-Overbrook Fire Department to get an order form, or contact Staci McKinney at (580) 276-7401, or snmckin0580@gmail.com. 

Staci McKinney said individuals can also pay through Venmo or she can meet up with people, and anyone with further questions can reach out to her. 

“While we all are saddened by the loss, we just remember the good times,” Clay McKinney said. “He was friends with everyone, so to create this fundraiser in his memory, it’s somehow rewarding and it feels like we should do it for him.”