After graduating from Lewisburg High School, Cheryl Allen began her career at the Logan County Hospital working as a CNA. Switching over to the ambulance side of things, Cheryl said that she found she enjoyed the fast pace more than working in the hospital. In 1983, she was hired by Logan Aluminum in the safety department with intentions to be part of their ambulance group. At the time, they were in the beginning stages of starting a fire department and informed Cheryl that she would also be trained as a firefighter. This training would ignite the beginning of an incredible 40-year career at Logan Aluminum.
Growing up in Lewisburg, Kentucky, Cheryl said that her dad was on the search and rescue team. She knew a little bit about some of the things he did from tagging along on calls with him. It was this exposure to emergency services that impacted her decision to accept the position and attend Texas A&M for fire training.
“A few weeks after I was hired, they sent a group of us for fire training,” Cheryl said. “It was my first exposure to actual firefighting. I was in confined spaces that week, jumping out of windows, and repelling out. I was scared to death, but it was such a rush. From that moment, I was hooked.”
Cheryl said Logan Aluminum was the major player in her development as a firefighter and made it easier to achieve her goals. She was given a lot of training opportunities that other firefighters in the country were not given, through specialty schools and hands-on training. Early in her career, a degree program was offered at Logan and, with the blessing of her unit manager at the time, Cheryl started working towards a degree in Fire Sciences.
“In the beginning, we had a rotating fire chief position where people would move into the role for a year at a time,” Cheryl said. “When the rotating fire chief position was offered to me, I told them I would be interested if it was a permanent position.”
Cheryl said the idea to make it a full-time position was approved by management and she, along with six others, applied and interviewed for the role as Logan Aluminum’s Fire Chief.
When she found out she was selected for the position, Cheryl said it was like reaching the pinnacle and a dream come true. She also said she also felt intimidated, at first, by the thought of being responsible for an entire team of firefighters. Despite this, Cheryl said that she was excited to work in the greatest job in the world, being there for people in their time of need.
“Fire is a whole different aspect for me. I respect it, but it’s also a challenge,” Cheryl said. “I compare fighting fire to slaying a dragon. Fire is a living, breathing entity that has to have food and oxygen. So, when I look at fire, I see something totally different than you do. I see a living, breathing dragon that I’m going to slay.”
Outside of her career as Fire Chief at Logan Aluminum, Cheryl also works as the Fire Chief at Russellville Rural Fire Department, a state fire instructor and teaches classes for Owensboro Fire Officers School and Texas A&M University. She is also the chaplain for the Kentucky Fire Chiefs Association and Vice President of the South Central Kentucky Fire Association. Cheryl is married to Tim Allen, who also works at Logan Aluminum. She has three children.