Richard Corbett, also known as Rick, is the current fire chief at the Jenkins Fire Department, with the responsibility of keeping the community safe. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in fire science, he earned a living working as a fireman in Gatlinburg, Tennessee while his wife, Karen, worked as the band director in the Jenkins school system in Jenkins, Kentucky. Two years later after the birth of their second child, Rick moved back to Jenkins, Kentucky, giving up something he loved doing to better his family. Rick then attended the University of Kentucky, Hazard Community College and earned a degree in Medical Laboratory Technology. After earning his second degree, Rick made a living working as the laboratory technician at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital while also volunteering at the Jenkins Fire Department.
Rick always knew that he wanted to be a fireman and make a difference in the world. When asking Rick what inspired him to be a fireman, he laughed and stated that he always enjoyed the big red trucks and could imagine himself driving one to a call. When he was five years old his neighbor was a volunteer fireman and he would always take Rick to the fire station. While he always knew he wanted to be a fireman, being at the station inspired him to reach for this dream.
Rick has had several people in his fire career that have made a large impact on his life. Richard Bogart (also known as Bogie); Fred Brandenburg, Captain in Richmond, Kentucky; Rodger Ogle, fireman in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; and James Shults, Captain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee are some of the few individuals that have made the largest impact on his life. Each person he has met during his life of fighting fires has made an impact in different ways, however, each have helped him become the firefighter that he is to this day.
During his fire career, Rick has had numerous runs that have changed his life. Out of the countless runs he has made there are only a select few that still haunt him to this day. One run that changed his life was the time that his Cub Scout’s mother’s home caught on fire leading to her death, Rick was the one that had to go into the fire and bring her lifeless body out. Rick also remembers the time that there was a forest fire in Neon, Kentucky and two people died in it, this event hit home and is something he can never forget. The most memorable run he has ever went on, however, was the Rebel Corner Fire in 1992; he is proud to tell people that he helped fight such a fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
In 2009 Rick was honored by the City of Jenkins with the Outstanding Citizen Award.
When Rick accepted his award, he spoke more about the people around him that made this award possible instead of making it about himself. As Mayor Charles Dixon stated, “Our city has traditionally been a group of proud people who work hard and come together to face adversity. We garner our strength by joining together in a spirit of volunteerism with a determination to make our community better. Rick is a shining example of being an unselfish community servant.” Rick is a kind hearted soul that will always put others before himself which shows when he risks his life everyday for the safety of others.
Rick has been the fire chief of the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department for twenty-five plus years and is still strongly active. He inspires numerous young men to follow his footsteps and become firemen as well, including his son Matthew Corbett. He has made a huge impact not only on the fire department but in the city as well; he is instrumental in updating the department and works tirelessly to support the City of Jenkins. All of his hard work shows at the department as well as in the city, as insurance rates have dropped. When Rick first became fire chief, the station consisted of two trucks and was located below City Hall; now there are two stations as well as a large fleet of fire trucks and other rescue vehicles. Rick spends many of his nights at the station filling out reports or figuring out ways to better the department, his work is never complete.