In the early 1970s, the Russellville Rural Fire Department (RRFD) was just getting organized to help answer the calls of those citizens who lived in the rural areas not serviced by the city. The department began with a few dedicated men who saw the need for volunteers to come together to help their neighbors.
The venture wasn’t an easy one, having failed at the first attempt. Manpower and funding was next to none, and without both it was difficult to make the department a reality. However, because of the commitment of men like JR Samson, Don Harkon, Clyde Gorham, Earl Davis, Smokie Smotherman, Earl Spurlock, Herschel Russell and Charles Lyne, among others, the department indeed became what is now known to be one of the most valuable assets Logan County has.
One of the first volunteer firefighters to sign up to the new department was Darrel Rogers. Rogers began serving as a volunteer firefighter in 1974 at 26-years-old. Just under 140 pounds, Rogers was not shy about carrying equipment that weighed half of what he did. Rogers had already served his country during the Vietnam War, and was wanting to continue his service to the local folks who had no fire protection accept for the rural departments.
“I joined because I too lived in a rural area,” said Rogers. “I saw one time where a house just across the city limits was on fire. When the firetrucks came roaring in they stopped right at the line and wouldn’t go any farther. The house just burned with the fire trucks a few feet away.”
Through the past 41 years, Rogers has seen a lot of fires and served with a lot of great firefighters. One of the most remembered for him was when the country club caught fire. The whole structure was in flames. Back in those days firefighters didn’t have the equipment they do today, and danger was at its highest level when fighting a fire.
Over the past four decades Rogers has earned over 500 training hours. He is one of the most trained firefighters in Logan County, along with his buddy and former Russellville Rural Fire Department Chief Ben Ferguson. Ferguson retired in 2013 having served the RRFD with Rogers.
“I joined a couple of days after Darrel and we have been best friends ever since,” said Ferguson.
After 13 years, Rogers became assistant chief. He and Ferguson worked side-by-side running the department.
“If I went out of town, Darrel was the first to know. If Darrel went out of town I was the first to know. We worked together. Heck, I even knew what he was having for breakfast,” chuckled Ferguson. “He was my assistant and I depended on him. He is a very dependable person and one of the best firefighters I know.”
Ferguson says you couldn’t ask for a better fellow than Rogers. He is dedicated to the people of Logan County and was to the department and his fellow firefighters. “He would do anything for you. He is like my brother. This man deserves a lot,” said Ferguson.
Rogers says he is not a one man show. There are so many that make up the department, and so many others who have served that deserve to be noted. A fire department, said Rogers, is a family who work together for one common goal, which is to help other people when they need it.
Rogers, who is also the owner and operator of Darrel’s Service Center since 1976, left the rural department earlier this year. He hung up his bibs and air tank to start serving with the Logan County Search & Rescue Squad. Just last week Rogers added to his training hours, but now for a different group.
“I wanted to continue to help those in my community, and if was not for the RRFD, then it would be somewhere else,” said Rogers.
Logan County Search & Rescue is a non-profit organization composed of volunteers that are called upon to aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger. Rogers feels he can lend his experience to this group to help others.
Rogers and his wife Chiao have three sons, Torrey, Joesph and Marvin. They have three grandchildren and one on the way. Rogers has retired from the service center, but does operate two days a week which he considers “hobby” days.
To contact Chris Cooper, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-726-8394.