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The city of La Vergne is mourning the loss of its beloved Fire Chief.
Chief Rick McCormick died after having complications during knee replacement surgery.
McCormick was a 30-plus year veteran in the fire service and his unexpected death has rocked this tight-knit community.
Every once in a while, you met someone that always seems to put others first.
“There is definitely a legacy here at our department with the McCormick family,” La Vergne Fire Marshal Curtis Brinkley said.
One who never wanted the spotlight.
La Vergne Fire Chief Rick McCormick was that man and those who worked with him said there will never be another.
“No, not at all,” Brinkley said. “Twenty years of friendship.”
Outside the La Vergne Fire Department Administration Building, a tribute for the Chief.
His fire vehicle is now a memorial, emergency lights flashing, in honor of a man who gave the city and the fire department so much.
His death has taken a toll on this small town.
“So, right now we’re just coming together comforting each other as a family and trying to be there for Chief McCormick’s family at the same time,” Brinkley said.
Brinkley was once roommates with McCormick some 17 years ago.
“Ricky was I’m going to lose my house, I’m going to lose my house, I need a roommate,” he laughed. “He knew I’d just moved out of my old house with my old roommate and I finally looked at him and said Ricky are you asking me to move in with you. He said would you.”
McCormick was the first fire chief of the La Vergne Fire Department after it was purchased from a private company.
He believed in his firefighters and they believed in him.
He set out to hire everyone from the private fire company, the part-time firefighters, and those who volunteered.
His brother is an inspector and one of his sons a La Vergne firefighter.
“You never want to lose a loved one especially a friend and a colleague and someone that treated you as far as Chief McCormick did, so it was definitely a shock when we received the news last night of his passing,” Brinkley said.
As his turn-out gear lay near his office door and his Chief uniform close by.
Co-workers are remembering a man who made a lasting impact on the fire department.
“We do have that close-knit family atmosphere of brotherhood and sisterhood and I think that going to help all of us pull through this tragedy we are going through,” Brinkley said.
McCormick did a lot for the fire department, pushing for a new fire administration headquarters.
He also took the department from an ISO rating of five to three, which lowered insurance rates for homeowners.
Fire departments from all over the state including, Knoxville, Hendersonville and Lawrenceburg traveled to La Vergne to pay their respect.
“We’re here because Chief McCormick in our line of duty death February 12 of this year sent down crews along with other chiefs from across the state to assist us and help us man our stations and take care of our city when we were going to this same similar situation,” Lawrenceburg Fire Chief Jay Moore said. “I’m here to try and help support Chief Clarke and the department of La Vergne, city of La Vergne as much as we possibly can during this trying time.”
Funeral arrangements for McCormick are incomplete at this time.
‘He was just our pick.’ Fire chief’s death shocks community
Former Mayor Senna Mosley hand-picked Chief Rick McCormick as her fire chief after La Vergne purchased the department from a private contractor.
Mosley said she couldn’t think of anyone else she wanted for the job
“He was just our pick,” Mosley said. “He should have been the very first fire chief for this city. It was appropriate that it be Ricky.”
McCormick was more than her fire chief, he was her friend.
“We’re just all in shock,” she said.
Mosley also volunteers with Box 100, a rehab for police and fire.
She comes from a long list of firefighters including her father former Chief of Martin Tennessee Fire Department, her husband, a Nashville Fire Captain and one of her sons who is a fireman in Smyrna.
She said she feels for McCormick’s family.
“His wife and his children and we just want to make sure that they all know they are our family too. Firefighting is a family and we are going to be there for them,” Mosley said.
Mosley always wanted her own fire helmet and after naming McCormick chief, he gathered a convoy of fire trucks and surprised her at her home.
“The day we took the fire department over he had the fire department lined up on this street and they presented me with our own helmet and they made sure it was orange because they know I love UT orange,” she said.
But her proudest moment is when McCormick redesigned the Fire Department logo and used her words in Latin.
Words she told her employees when she was Mayor.
“Do your job legally, morally and ethically,” Mosley said.
This has been a tough year for the McCormicks, their son Brandon died in a tragic motorcycle crash.
“They’ve seen enough tragedy for a lifetime,” said Assistant Fire Chief Chris Clarke.
McCormick had more than 30 years of experience as a firefighter. He started as a volunteer when he was a teenager.
His death has rocked this community.