DeKalb County firefighters honor fallen colleague

Kole Richards died Friday while changing a tire on the side of I-59.

Posted: Sep 11, 2019 6:41 PM
Updated: Sep 11, 2019 9:33 PM

Scores of firetrucks, 18-wheelers and wreckers filled the streets of DeKalb County to pay tribute to a fallen firefighter.

Kole Richards died Friday while changing a tire on the side of I-59. He was hit by a truck.

Kole Richards; Credit: Crossville Fire

"This is a true brotherhood, the fire department is," said Kilpatrick Fire Chief Marshall Woods.

We met up with the Kilpatrick Volunteer Fire Department just before they headed to Crossville to fill in at the station. Kilpatrick and Crossville are just eight minutes apart and often work together on calls. Each person we talked with had a memory of Kole Richards.

"I kind of looked up to him, you know? He was always one we were looking for when we were on a structure fire," said Tanner Stimpson.

Fellow firefighters said Kole was dedicated to helping people and someone you could always count on.

"He missed no calls, I mean, he would drop whatever he was doing and take off," said Woods.

While he was not working in the capacity of a volunteer firefighter at the time, the "Move Over" law still applies. The "Alabama Move Over Act" requires drivers to move at least one lane over when any service vehicle is parked on the side of the road. That includes first responders, wreckers and utility crews. If you can't move over, you should reduce your speed to 15 mph less than the posted speed limit. 

Firefighters told WAAY 31 often times when they are working on the side of the road, drivers speed by with no regard for their safety. They said they want drivers to know when anyone is working on the side of the road, it's hard to focus on safety.

"People should know that. People should say, 'Hey, they're worried about something else.' I ain't got time to be watching the road to make sure they're going to move over," said Stimpson.

Firefighters say while these past few days without their friend and colleague have been tough, their next fire call might be even harder.

"It'll probably hit pretty hard once we figure out that, hey, he's not going to be there, you know, behind us," said Stimpson.

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