Horace Sexton has been helping make life better in his native Jackson County since his first job, as a barber, more than four decades ago. He often visited shut-ins and gave them free haircuts on his days off.
His later volunteer work has touched thousands of other lives—and perhaps saved some of them.
During his 29-year career as a ranger with the Kentucky Division of Forestry and 38 years of service with the Pond Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Sexton has become a hero to many children in the Jackson Energy Cooperative area through his fire-safety visits to elementary classrooms.
“I take them outside and let each child there—the whole school if they want to—blow the fire truck’s sirens and turn the lights on,” Sexton says. “The kids love this program.”
The fire truck has proved to be a valuable teaching tool for the 75-year-old assistant fire chief’s lifesaving lessons.
“I tell the little kids, ‘If your house is on fire, don’t hide. Go outside.’ It’s nature for a child to hide in a closet or under a bed.”
Sexton urges children to ask their families to plan a meeting place outdoors where each person can be accounted for should a fire occur. And he cautions children not to try to save their favorite toys during a house fire, often promising to personally replace lost toys if children will get to a place of safety.
Before retiring from the Division of Forestry, in between fighting forest fires in more than 10 counties or going on occasional special duty with U.S. Forest Service fire crews out West, Sexton led Junior Forest Ranger programs and sometimes dressed in a Smokey Bear suit to teach youngsters about preventing forest fires.
He is credited with introducing the leaf blower as an effective tool for clearing fire lines in rocky terrain where rakes and other implements are sometimes useless.
Sexton still takes part in an average of 80 to 100 fire runs each year. He sets up landing zones for medical helicopters and often assists with traffic control at accident scenes and funerals.
He and his wife, Alice, a retired emergency dispatcher, financed building a helipad in their back yard for the evacuation of emergency patients from their community of Annville.