With no dissent, the Pine Bluff City Council voted Tuesday night to name the city’s newest fire station, Fire Station No. 3, in honor of retired firefighter Tommy Davis. The station is located on West 32nd Avenue just off Olive Street. The meeting was moved from Monday because of the federal Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
After the vote, Davis, who retired in 2004, said that people have asked him what he wanted his legacy of working for the Fire and Emergency Services Department to be, and he had a simple answer.
“What I wanted to do was leave the place better than I found it,” Davis said to a standing ovation.
“Young people have asked me for counsel and advice, and I always tell them to never forget when they climb that rope and pull themselves to the top of the fence, don’t forget to throw the rope back down so the next person can climb that fence,” Davis said.
Before the vote, former Pine Bluff Mayor Carl Redus Jr., whom Davis would later call his “best friend,” read a letter of support for the naming of the station that came from Gregory Summers, a Pine Bluff native who became the first African-American fire chief in the history of the Little Rock Fire Department. Summers retired in 2008 after 35 years of service. In his letter, he credited Davis with suggesting that he apply in Little Rock rather than in Pine Bluff.
Summers said he talked with Davis and expressed interest in applying in Pine Bluff, but said Davis told him, “Greg, there are things going on here that are just not right, and Little Rock is testing on (the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) campus … I highly recommend you seek employment there.”
Redus said he has known Davis for more than 50 years as a classmate and friend, and naming the station for Davis would recognize the dedication he had shown to “our beloved city.”
The idea also received support from retired firefighter Tracy Smith, who said in a letter that “The City of Pine Bluff was privileged to have Tommy; who as a firefighter for many years devoted his life to saving others. He helped shape the brotherhood that defines the department today.”
“Tommy understood that only through camaraderie, respect for one another and unconditional love for our city could we create those vital conditions that would cause individuals to be utterly selfless in their approach to duty,” Smith said in a letter. “Best of all, he led by example. He attended to the needs of others directly, with compassion and friendship. All along he never wavered in patiently delivering professional leadership.”
Fire and Emergency Services Lt. Mozell Gipson, who is interim president of BRAVE (International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters) said he met Davis 22 years ago when he, Gipson, applied for a job with the department. He said Davis still calls him on regular basis to offer advice and motivation.
Gipson and outgoing BRAVE president Johnnie L. Brown also signed a letter supporting naming a truck of station in honor of Davis.
The resolution was introduced by Council member Ivan Whitfield, the former president of the NAACP, who initially proposed the naming of a firetruck or station for Davis last year before assuming his seat on the council on Jan. 1. It was cosponsored by every other member of the council.
In the only other piece of business Tuesday, a resolution authorizing the mayor and the director of the Economic and Community Development Department to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a grant of up to $800,000 to “remediate environmental risk areas in the city that qualify” was authorized.