Family and friends say goodbye to fallen firefighter

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Silence hung heavy outside the large meeting hall in Renfro Valley where the visitation was being held for Chris Kerns. Firefighters wore blacked-out badges and large black ribbons hung centered on several fire trucks with Kerns' name on them.

"It's never easy when you go through something like this. It's just going to take a lot of time to heal," said Berea Fire Chief Roy Curtis, who Kerns served under.

Inside the visitation, only soft music and the sound of faint sobbing could be heard.

"It's a very somber moment. You really don't know how to react," said Captain Rick Branhan, who served with Kerns on the Brodhead Volunteer Fire Department.

The 29-year-old man was killed last week when a train hit his vehicle in Rockcastle County.

"It still really hasn't sunk in," admitted Branhan.

Those who knew Kerns say he was the type of man to always give everything he could, which is part of the reason he joined three fire departments.

"Chris was great! He was a great friend, eager to learn," said Branhan, adding that Kerns, "loved everything about the fire service."

Kerns started with the Brodhead Volunteer Fire Department, and Branhan says Kerns loved the job so much he went to work for the Berea Fire Department. Kerns would also take on a role with the Mt. Vernon Fire Department.

"He really enjoyed fire fighting. He was just a great firefighter, he did an excellent job," described Chief Curtis.

Today, all three departments along with many others from around Eastern Kentucky paid their respects to their fallen friend.

"It's great to see all of the brothers come out to support one of our fallen," said Branhan.

"When one of their own goes down, they rally in support," acknowledged Berea Mayor Steven Connelly, who came to support the family and Berea Fire Department in this time of loss.

The loss of Kerns will leave a big hole in the three departments, and an even bigger hole in the hearts of those that love him.

Kerns' funeral will be Wednesday afternoon at one, it will be held in Renfro Valley.

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