Franklin Fire Lieutenant to Retire After Three Decades of Service
Lieutenant Ricky Cotton Honored at Retirement Reception
Franklin, TN – After three decades of service to the community, Lieutenant Ricky Cotton will retire this week. He was honored at a reception on December 11 that was attended by family, friends, co-workers and city officials.
For Lt. Cotton, firefighting is a family tradition. In 1987 he joined his uncles, Battalion Chief John Fitzgerald and Engineer Robert Fitzgerald, and his brother Engineer Mike Jones, as a member of the Franklin Fire Department.
A Williamson County native and graduate of Page High School, Lt. Cotton’s distinguished career includes being promoted to the rank of engineer in 1993, followed by a promotion to Lieutenant in 2000. He earned a Meritorious Service Award during the 2010 flood for an incident that he recalled as his most memorable.
After responding to water rescues all day, an early morning explosion on May 3, 2010 in a flooded Fieldstone Farms home on Burlington Pass sent flames shooting into the air. The fire spread quickly to the adjacent home. Lt. Cotton was the initial incident commander on the scene. He and his crew fought the side-by-side blazes in waist-deep water. Although there were occupants in the second home at the time of the fire, no one was injured.
Lt. Cotton said he was most proud of being a founding member of the department’s chaplain program in 1988, and of serving as a departmental chaplain since that time. He said that over the years countless firefighters have called upon him in this capacity, especially following the deaths of Franklin Firefighter-Paramedics David Cline in 2009 and J.D. Fotopoulos last year. He commented, “It was a privilege to offer comfort, counseling and prayer,” adding, “I appreciated being there for them.”
Lt. Cotton said it was also a privilege to provide the eulogy at the funeral of Fire Chief J.W. Culberson, who passed away in 2007. Before his death, Chief Culberson made this request of Lt. Cotton. He said, “I was honored to be able to keep that promise.”
In reflecting on his career, Lt. Cotton commented on how much the city has grown, and how the department has changed. There were only two fire stations when he joined the department, and no mall. “It was a small town,” said Lt. Cotton. “Now it’s booming.” He said they only responded to fires and not medical calls at the time he was hired. (FFD’s medical response began in 1995.) He continued, “Now we don’t have a lot of fires, which is a good thing. Now we have a lot of medical calls.”
Today the city has eight fire stations. Over the years Lt. Cotton has been assigned to downtown Station 1 (in its former location at 604 West Main St.), Station 2 on Murfreesboro Rd., Station 3 in Cool Springs, and finally Station 4, where he has served the Fieldstone Farms community since 2003.
“It’s been a great experience,” Lt. Cotton said. I appreciate the City of Franklin and the opportunity to serve here. I’ve enjoyed serving this community.”
Engineer Shawn Williams said, “I was fortunate to be assigned to Station 4 for the past 13 years under the leadership of Lt. Cotton. He has proven time and again to be a selfless and caring leader. He treats everyone fairly and with great understanding and compassion. We are going to miss him greatly.”
“Lt. Cotton has served Franklin’s citizens and guests faithfully for 30 years. He has also been someone whom our own firefighters could go to in times of need in his capacity as a chaplain,” said Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek. “We cannot adequately express our gratitude for his dedication and hard work. He will be greatly missed but we wish him a wonderful and fulfilling retirement.”
During this new chapter of his life, Lt. Cotton plans to travel and do missionary work. He and his wife LaTanya live in Chapel Hill. They have two children, Domonic and TiAnna, and two grandchildren.
Lt. Cotton with his wife LaTanya and daughter TiAnna.
Lt. Cotton was featured in a video about Ladder 4 and Station 4 in 2013. To watch follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63mnDNEAh0w