Luke Wood named Church Hill fire chief following dad's retirement

Jeff Bobo • Oct 17, 2019 at 8:30 PM

CHURCH HILL – David Wood served as Church Hill fire chief for 33 years, and his replacement knows better than anyone what big shoes he has to fill.

On Tuesday, the Church Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 7-0 to appoint Wood's son Luke Wood as the new fire chief.

Luke has been an official member of the CHFD since 2001, although he was going on fire calls with his dad long before that. He has served as the department's training officer since 2006.

“Luke has been with us since he was a little bitty boy, and he does a good job,” said Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal. “I think he works well with our fire department, and we'll keep moving forward like nothing has changed. I think it's a good fit for the city.”

Luke Wood is also a full time firefighter at the Kingsport Fire Department, and like his father who worked for the Eastman Fire Department for 30 years, will bring the knowledge and experienced he gains from his regular job back to the CHFD.

Retiring after 33 years as chief

David Wood was an original member of the CHFD and its second fire chief. The CHFD was founded in 1984 with Dan DeWald serving as chief for two years, after which David Wood was named chief in 1986, serving in that position until he retired last month.

The elder Wood turned 65 in September, and recently had a new granddaughter join the family.

Luke said his dad decided to slow down and spend more time with his wife, granddaughter and two grandsons. He'll still be working two 4-hour shifts per week for the city as building inspector.

The Times News spoke with Luke Wood on Thursday about this new position and carrying on his dad’s work.

Talk about the legacy your dad leaves behind

Luke Wood: “Under his leadership we got an ISO rating of 5, we got two fire stations, we were able to become first responders for the Phipps Bend Industrial Park and we're able to replace equipment as need-be. He really loved being a fire chief and he wanted what was best for his guys — to make sure his guys were safe and everybody went home at the end of the call.”

He must have been a big influence on your career choice

Luke wood: “I never really had thought of being chief. He's the one who led me into the fire service. As a kid growing up he'd take me on fire calls with him, and over time he'd teach me how to do things. He's the one who got me into the fire service. I'm really blessed that the city appointed me fire chief, and I just hope that I can be half the fire chief that he is. I wouldn't be where I'm at without him.”

What are your plans as chief?

Luke Wood: “The city has been really good as far as letting me do things to help better the department. We've got good firemen and good employees here, and and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have a fire department. Our motto in the fire service is, 'Everybody goes home', and that's what we try to do after every call. We try to get them the best equipment and training, and that was his top priority — making sure everybody was safe. That's what I hope to keep carrying on.”

Can you put in 33 years as fire chief too?

Luke Wood: “It's hard to tell, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Hopefully I can give 34 or 35 years instead of 33. But he helped this department a lot. It's going to be an adjustment not having him here on fire calls. If you had a question, he’d be there to answer it. Now I've got to be the one who answers the questions.”