Dedicating his life to helping others, Harlan Fire Department Lt. James Billings, wears a wide variety of hats in his quest to save lives and protect his community.
“After listening to firefighters who came to my school when I was a child, and seeing them fighting fires in the community, I decided I wanted to become a firefighter myself one day,” said Billings. “My father, William, who died in a coal mining accident when I was just 6 years old, was a volunteer firefighter with the Loyall Fire Department until the day he died in 1986. This also encouraged me to want to become a fireman.”
Providing training for staff and those involved with emergency management throughout the county, Billings, 34, of Harlan, is the Harlan County Emergency Management Hazardous Materials Coordinator. He is also a special deputy with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, one of three who conduct arson investigations for that department.
He is a volunteer with the Harlan County pee-wee football league. A Harlan High School graduate, Billings attended Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College where he became certified as an emergency medical technician. He is a Level I firefighter instructor for the state, allowing him to teach firefighters how to do their jobs safely. He is also a certified rapid intervention team instructor, teaching firefighters how to get out of trouble while they are doing their jobs.
Billings is also one of Harlan city’s building inspectors doing life safety code enforcement. He visits local schools and teaches children about fire safety.
“I love working with the kids, teaching them about fire prevention,” said Billings. “We teach them the stop, drop and roll techniques. The what-if scenarios, giving them examples and asking what they would do in a situation to educate them in correct procedures.”
Billings said being a firefighter is a “very rewarding” career. He encourages everyone to become a volunteer firefighter, which will allow you to be instrumental in saving property and lives.
“If you are physically able, you need to think about becoming a volunteer firefighter,” said Billings. “Being equipped with the knowledge of how to fight a fire or prevent one could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.”
Billings’ hobbies include hunting, fishing and hanging out with his buddies. He said he loves the outdoors. He and his wife, Trina, have two children.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com