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Memorial for slain firefighter goes up but firefighters don't know where it came from

By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email
By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email

Brenda Cowan was gunned down while responding to a domestic violence call at a rural south Lexington home February 13. 2004.

On the eighth anniversary of her death and what would have been her twentieth year in service, folks who knew Cowan gathered at Fire Station 18 to unveil a new memorial.

From the lockers to the trucks, few things have changed inside the station. That's why so many were moved when a four foot by eight foot crocheted American flag was dedicated to Cowan.

The flag has a black stripe on it commemorating Cowan's service and death. Hung above a door, it's one of the first things seen when entering the building and one of the last things seen by firefighters as they head out on calls. Now, they just all want to know where the work of art came from.

"I'm sure the Cowan family would like to know where it came from," explained Battalion Chief Ed Davis, who led the morning's ceremony.

Major Chris Sweat, a paramedic, says he found the flag in a black trash bag on a shelf of a storage unit he was cleaning out about eleven months ago.

"I was amazed," Sweat said to members of the media, describing the moment he found the flag. "Not sure quite why I found it where I did."

Since the discovery, folks working on Cowan's former engine have framed it and unveiled it following a prayer this morning.

"It is kind of in the heart of the station," explained Sweat as he looked at the flag. "Kind of like she was," he finished."

Firefighters say now they're hoping whoever made the flag will step forward, so they can be thanked. They say they have no idea how long the flag was kept in storage.

According to the website Women in the Fire Service, Cowan was the first black female firefighter killed in the line of duty.

The man charged in her murder, Patrick Hutchinson, has never been found metally competent to stand trial. He was also charged with murder for fatally shooting his wife, Fontaine.


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