Meet two of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s dedicated crew of denim-clad firefighters

dfwnewsa | February 1, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Meet two of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s dedicated crew of denim-clad firefighters

J.T. Devereaux, left, has been with the Fort Worth Fire Department for six years and has worked at the stock show for four years. His colleague T.J. Clark, right, has been with the department for eight years and has also covered the stock show for four years. (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)
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One of the most important places at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo isn’t a barn or rodeo arena — it’s a fire station.Beyond the cattle barns, a mini-doughnut stand and a booth selling official stock show merchandise, Fire Station 80 is nestled in the Burnett Building at the intersection of Tower and Burnett Tandy drives. The station is dormant for most of the year, but a crew of about 12 firefighters from across Fort Worth rotate through 24-hour shifts during the event’s roughly three-week run.“It’s a full-scale station,” engineer T.J. Clark said. “We respond to everything a normal station would, just condensed into this smaller location.”A tour of the station doesn’t take long. There is a small apartment-style kitchen, bathroom, garage with storage and a firetruck, and a space that lives up to the name multipurpose. It has a desk, a radio to relay incoming calls, a table for meals and four Murphy beds that stay hidden upright until it’s lights out around 10:30 or 11 p.m.“It all fits just perfectly here,” firefighter J.T. Devereaux said. “It’s like navigating a maze in the dark.”  

Occasionally, they will have to take the engine out to respond to a dumpster or car fire, but most of the calls they get are medical in nature. For smaller calls, they have utility vehicles that are stocked with automated external defibrillators, stretchers and other supplies; these units make it easier to safely navigate through crowds. 

“Anything from your normal sick person — heart attacks, strokes, anything like that to … a kid gets a little cut and needs a Band-Aid,” Clark said. “We respond to pretty much anything.”

Working the stock show is a coveted job, so firefighters put in bids for the shifts, which are then awarded by seniority.“It’s definitely a perk being out here and being able to wear jeans,” Clark said of their personalized denim Wrangler shirts and jeans.The special stock show uniform goes back in the fire department’s history as long as either firefighter can remember.Several photos hanging in the kitchen show denim-clad firefighters over the decades, all working at the stock show. 

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The current station wasn’t built until the late 1980s, but Devereaux and Clark said that the department has been present at the annual event since its inception in the late 1890s. It’s not uncommon for families to walk by and do a double take before stopping in to ask for a tour or photos. The crew uses this time to talk about safety measures like stop, drop and roll, while also handing out stickers and pink or red plastic helmets. 

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“I believe we still are the only fire station on stock show grounds for any city in the U.S. If not, we’re one of (very few) of them,” Devereaux said. “It seems to take a lot of people by surprise. Some think we’re just here for show and tell, but then we explain that we’re here to provide all emergency services.” Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board.

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