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Cowan Photo

Lieutenant Brenda D. Cowan

Engine Co. #18

February 13th, 2004


Lieutenant Brenda Cowan was shot and killed on February 13, 2004, while attempting to aid an unresponsive female at the scene of a domestic violence situation.

Lt. Cowan and her crew on Engine Co. #18 were called as a first responder unit to a report of a female down in the yard at 8645 Adams Lane in rural southern Fayette County. Upon arrival of E-18, Cowan and her crew carefully approached the scene on foot since they were unsure of what had happened to the woman. Just as the crew reached the patient several shots rang out without warning from a nearby home striking both Lt. Cowan and Firefighter Jim Sandford. The crew attempted to radio for help but communications in the area were poor at the time and the was a delay in summoning more help or even warning incoming ambulance, EC-2.

After notifications were made and a large number of police units arrived on scene, crews were finally able to reach the stricken crew of E-18 but it was too late for Cowan. She died of a gunshot wound to the chest. FF Jim Sandford suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and was airlifted from the scene to the University of Kentucky Hospital where he was treated and recovered.

Lieutenant Cowan was the first black female fire officer in the history of the Lexington Fire Department and she had only been assigned to E-18 as the company officer for one week prior to her death. At the time of her death Cowan was 40 years old and was a 12 year veteran of the LFD.

Click Here to Read the Official NIOSH Incident Investigation Report


In Memory

Cowan Procession
Lt. Cowan's Funeral Procession on Main Street

Cowan With Child
Lt. Cowan working with a child while still a firefighter assigned to Engine Co. #7

Cowan E7
Then-firefighter Cowan poses next to Engine #7 not long after graduating from recruit school

Cowan FPP
Then-firefighter Cowan poses next to Station #7's Fire Prevention Week float with Lt. Mike Runnels (now Major Runnels) and FF Mike Souder (now retired)

Cowan Gear
Lt. Cowan's bunker gear sits empty next to her funeral procession route


Last updated: 7/3/2011 2:13:48 PM