Fireman Carl Hairrell is the City Spotlight for August.
Firefighters risk their lives to ensure the safety of our community. They are some of the most selfless public servants you will ever meet. Carl Hairrell didn’t grow up as most little boys do wanting to be a fireman, and it wasn’t until he was selected as Boys State Representative at Spring Garden High School that he made that decision. On his weeklong adventure at the University of Montevallo, all the students were asked to choose a profession. “Most of the jobs were in the political field,” says Hairrell. “I’m not very political so I chose to be a fireman. After experiencing all the tasks of a fireman that week, and meeting the State Fire Marshall, I was hooked. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a fireman. I have never regretted choosing that as my career.”
Fireman Carl Hairrell has served for the City of Jacksonville for eleven years this month. He is currently filling in as Assistant Fire Chief since Keith Kadle was promoted to Fire Chief in June. Hairrell wears many hats, to say the least, as he works as a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the City of Jacksonville, a full-time paramedic for Piedmont Rescue Squad, and is a part-time firefighter for Piedmont Fire Department. His first job was delivering furniture for Pope’s Furniture in Piedmont. He then was hired by Piedmont Rescue. He then worked part-time at Piedmont Fire Department, where he has been employed since 2005. PFD sent him to fire school, so he was fully certified when he came to Jacksonville. According to Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Kadle, “Carl has always been a ‘go to’ man for any job the fire department needs done. He always has a great attitude and a strong work ethic. He has been acting as an Assistant Chief for about six weeks and has done a great job in leading his shift and assuming more responsibility.”
Hairrell was born at Jacksonville Hospital, and is the son of Danny and Violet Hairrell of Piedmont. He has an older brother Nick Hairrell and younger sister Candie Ledbetter. He also has an adopted brother and sister, David and Jessica Smith. He has two nephews Eli and Zane. He is a 2004 graduate of Spring Garden High School, and then earned his paramedic degree at Gadsden State. Hairrell has two daughters, Abigail, 8, and Annabelle who is four years old. “They are the light of my life,” says Hairrell. I get them whenever I’m off duty. “It’s funny, every fire truck or ambulance they see they think that it’s me. While most young children are really intrigued by fire trucks and firemen, my kids say oh that is just my daddy.”
When asked how he feels about being a fireman he replies, “It can be challenging but very rewarding. Making someone’s day a little brighter makes it all worthwhile.” When asked if a certain fire stands out in his memory he recalled, “Once we were fighting a fire in the Angel community and the resident had a hobby of reloading ammunition and had a lot of loaded guns in the house. As the fire progressed, all that ammo started going off and bullets were flying everywhere, that was pretty scary,” says Hairrell. During the 2011 tornadoes that ripped through Wellington and surrounding areas, Hairrell was out on sick leave due to a recent surgery. He heard about it and immediately showed up to help. A superior told him to go home because he was on sick leave. Hairrell said, “The community needs me, and I want to help.” “I didn’t get paid for it but that was ok, I knew that I was needed.” That shows the kind of character and dedication firefighter Carl Hairrell displays.
Hairrell doesn’t have a lot of free time but when he does, he loves to spend time with his girls. He also enjoys fishing, building things, and just being outdoors. He likes riding on his Polaris Ranger, and also hanging out with fellow firemen. “I love the guys I work with,” says Hairrell. “We are like family. We do things together on and off the jobsite.”
Firefighters save more than homes, they save hearts, memories… dreams. Thank you, Carl Hairrell, for your service to our community and keeping us safe.
Article and Photo by Anita Kilgore.