The Ashland Beacon
Growing up in Ashland, everyone is familiar with the sound of the Westwood fire whistle. Every night at 9 p.m., the fire whistle goes off. In years past, children knew that when they heard the fire whistle, it was time to go home. Now the volunteer firemen are equipped with their own radios; gone are the days of depending on the whistle to alert them to calls. But it continues to serve as a secondary means of alerting the firefighters. Volunteer firemen are on call 24 hours a day. Most firemen have their own day jobs as well. Families watch their firemen leave for duty, not knowing when or if they will return. It could be a house fire, car wreck, brush fire - they never know what they’re heading into. These men and women put their lives on the line for their community because they care.
Lawson Webster has served over 50 years at the Westwood Volunteer Fire Department. In 2016, he was awarded by the Kentucky Fire Commission and the Boyd County Fiscal Court for over half a century’s worth of service. He’s currently the Deputy Chief at the fire department. When Webster began firefighting in the late 60s they didn’t have oxygen tanks, or fireproof suits. They wore long coats, boots and waders. Although Webster is no longer able to drag fire hoses, he still has lots of wisdom to impart and he serves as a great role model as he assists with training firemen. He still goes on fire calls and offers his assistance. He’s undoubtedly proud of his son and grandchildren carrying on in his footsteps.
Brent “Bub” Webster is a career Fire Chief at the Westwood Volunteer Fire Department. Additionally, he’s also a Detective with the Russell Police Department. He’s been a member of the fire department for 36 years and the chief for 25 years. On average, they have roughly 360 calls a year.
Webster spoke adoringly about his dad, “He’s a man’s man and he has done things, I just don’t know how he was able to do.” He recalls his father working 12-16 hour days when he was growing up and still having time for fire calls and his boys. He has fond memories of fishing, camping and family gatherings. “He instilled a work ethic, pride and love that only a dad could,” said Webster. He credits his Dad with teaching him just about everything he needs to know in life, fire and rescue.
Brent’s wife, Brandy, is also a member of the Westwood Fire Department. She admits that when she met her husband she knew he was very committed to his jobs serving the community. “It’s really hard to be a policeman’s wife and a fire chief's wife at the same time,” said Webster. But she concluded, “I wouldn’t have it any other way!” Webster elaborated that the fire department volunteers are like one big family and they love serving their community, in any way they can. Webster helps mostly with the office work. “When the tones drop on the radio, everyone drops whatever they are doing to respond to those in need,” said Webster.
Webster's two sons have followed in their father’s footsteps, just as he did. Brent Webster began as a junior fireman at just 10 years old. As a junior firemen, your responsibilities include washing the fire trucks, rolling up hoses and keeping the station clean and tidy. Junior firemen complete the same training as their adult counterparts and they attend all training classes. It’s important to Webster that his sons receive the best fire education and training available to them. Webster said, “I thought I knew what love was, before I had my boys, Kyle and Hayden.” Webster feels the volunteers at the fire department played a big role in raising the boys and making them the people they are today.
Hayden Webster is 13 years old and he’s now a junior fireman. He currently attends eighth grade at Fairview Independent; he plays football and is a member of the STLP. Hayden mentioned while growing up, the volunteer firemen made him feel like he had more than one brother. “The Westwood community makes you feel like family and gives you a sense of brotherhood. Even outside of the fire house, we’re all like one big family. We’re always finding ways to help people in our community. The best part of being a fireman for me, is about tradition. My whole family has been in the fire service and I just fell in love with it,” said Webster. He plans on going to college and pursuing a Fire Science degree like his Dad and his brother, once he graduates high school.
Kyle Webster's social media intro states, “I’m just a boy, trying to live up to his Papaw’s legacy.” In December 2020, Webster was hired as a probationary firefighter at the Huntington Fire Department and he's a Captain at the Westwood Volunteer Fire Department. “My dream ever since I was a kid was to be a fireman,” said Webster. He recalls as early as kindergarten, he had already chosen this profession. He fondly remembers asking his dad to tagalong to the firehouse as a young child, because he enjoyed the fellowship there. In later years, these firehouse friendships were based on trust and evolved into a true brotherhood. He credits both his papaw and father for paving the way for him in the fire service. “They have taught me many things that I use on a daily basis now,” said Webster. Webster remembers that his dad and papaw would let him play with their old burnt up hats and he would wear them with his play fire gear for hours on end. Webster confirmed that it’s a family business to him, and he loves it and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Three generations of Websters have stormed the doors of the Westwood Fire Department, put on their gear and continued to fight fires. They love their community and continue to serve it honorably. How many people can say that three generations of their family are still alive and active in firefighting? The Webster family is truly a special breed of folks and they all have community service permanently imprinted in their hearts.