Sevierville fire chief laid to rest

9:54 PM, Jan 3, 2012   |    comments
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Emergency responders throughout East Tennessee said goodbye to one of their own Tuesday.

Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings passed away Saturday following a four month battle with cancer.

"The thing I miss most, I walk in that office and he's not there," said Captain Fred Atchley. "He wasn't just a chief, he was like a father to a lot of us."

Atchley has known Rawlings since he first started hanging around the station at age seven.

"He always told me I was like his third son. It's more difficult for me than a lot of people here. It's like losing a family member," Atchley said.

Rawlings spent 38 years in the fire service, the last 17 as chief. He also served in the US Marine Corps.

For Atchley, one of the hardest parts is not having their chief hanging out like "one of the guys".

"When he'd show up on a nighttime fire we'd tell him he needs to put a hat on, because his hair was all messed up and he looked pretty rough," Atchley said. "We'd always make fun of him about that and give him a hard time."

Support from those in the area eases the pain.

"It's been great. The people in this community support the fire service. They support Sevierville Fire Department and Sevier County Fire Department," he said.

Members of fire departments from as far away as Smyrna traveled to Sevierville to show their support and take part in the funeral procession.

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