Coburn, founder of local fire departments, dies at age 71


Bill Coburn


The funeral procession of Bill Coburn passed under the American flag supported by two fire engines, (Photo by Chris Hall)



Knott County says goodbye to a man who dedicated his life to serving others. Bill Coburn, 71, passed away Tuesday, February 18, of heart complications. Coburn is remembered as being a key figure in setting up most of the local fire departments and training many firefighters. He is noted as a founder of the regional Hazard Fire School, the largest in the state.

After Coburn came home from serving our country as a soldier in the US Army he served his community as a volunteer firefighter. Dedicating over 30 years as a fireman, Coburn has been a member of the Hazard Fire Department, captain of the Hindman Volunteer Fire Department, and chief of Knott County Fire Department and Jones Fork Fire Department. He was a past president of the Mountain Firefighters Association.

As a president of the Mountain Firefighters Association located in Hazard, he was in charge of training firefighters. Coburn and staff traveled around the state training large fire department personnel in cities such as Lexington and Louisville.

In August 2011 the Mountain Firefighters Association honored Coburn at an event held at Hazard Community and Technical College. The inaugural Hall of Fame took place on campus at the opening of the annual regional fire school training.

Coburn entered the workforce in 1967 when he began working for Hazard Vocational and Technical School as Highway Engineering Instructor. He became Senior Instructor-Coordinator for Fire Service Training program for Region 12 in 1983. He held a statewide position with Kentucky Community Technical College System as a hazardous materials instructor.

The pioneer fireman volunteered for responsibilities on the boards of several organizations. Formerly, Coburn was a deputy director of Knott County Disaster and Emergency Services. He had served as a board member of 911 and East Kentucky Health Services Center. In addition to positions on fire, rescue and emergency agencies he volunteered as a deputy sheriff in Knott County.

The Knott County resident was a role model for his family and community. He is survived by his wife Christine, daughter Susan, grandson Zachary, twin sister Betty Anderson, and brothers Oakley Herman and John.

He was preceded in death by his son James, parents Oakley and Nellie Coburn, and sister Linda Coburn.

Funeral services were held Saturday, February 22, at the Hindman Funeral Services Chapel with Kelly Slone, Marion Huff and Daniel Jacobs officiating. Hindman DAV Chapter 171 conducted military honors. In lieu of flowers the family asked that memorials be made to Jones Fork Volunteer Fire Department or a volunteer fire department or church of choice.

Hindman Funeral Director Danny Terry said he knew Coburn all his life. In fact he attended Coburn’s first graduation. Terry relayed, “Bill was a great community man, civic minded. He devoted many hours for the good of his county and surrounding counties. He was a special friend and he loved his friends and family.”

Following burial in the Rich Smith Cemetery at Leburn, Ky., KSP Hazard Post 13 announced on the local fire channel.

“This is a final call for 705 Jones Fork Fire Chief Bill Coburn. Thank you for your service. May you forever rest in the palm of the Lord.”

Find the Troublesome Creek Times at local stores in Knott and surrounding counties or subscribe to the Times at (606)-785-5134