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Lake Mead fire boat dedicated to former Ranger

September 12, 2018

BOULDER CITY, Nevada – Lake Mead Ranger Thomas Kenneth “T.K.” Brown died in the line of duty August 31, 1973. Now forty-five years later, on August 31, family members and first responders celebrated his life and service by dedicating the Lake Mead Fire Boat in his honor at a ceremony at the Lake Mead Marina.

“He was an awesome man. He was a life giver and life saver,” said his daughter, Barbara Nash. “He spent his whole life working for the betterment of the community.”

Brown served with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for 30 years, retiring as the captain of the fire boat in Marina Del Rey. He was a national officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and became one of the first law enforcement officers at Lake Mead in 1969, bringing his decades of experience with water safety and firefighting.

“Today we honor his memory and devotion to public service by dedicating our fire boat in his name,” said Superintendent Lizette Richardson. “I extend my gratitude to his family for his service and sacrifice protecting America’s special places.”

His daughter Bonnie Allison was 26 years old when Brown lost his life in a diving accident at Ringbolt Rapids.

“Today is a long-forgotten remembrance of a man who was exceptional in this world,” she said. “There is not a person he wouldn’t help. They broke the mold when they made my dad.”

Brown’s grandson Thomas Allison, great grandson Robert Allison and adopted great grandson Trenton Allison were also at the ceremony.

“The Lake Mead Visitor and Resource Protection Division is one of the most diverse and complicated programs in the National Park Service,” said Mark Hnat deputy chief ranger. “We’re also one of the most highly respected at all-hazard operations, providing law enforcement, search and rescue, firefighting and emergency medical on land and water.

“We’re successful because of the people who choose to work here that choose to dedicate themselves, much like T.K. did, and because of the partnerships that help us accomplish these goals,” he added.

Those partnerships were evident during the ceremony. First responders from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Clark County Fire Department, Mohave County and Community Ambulance along with representatives from U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s staff, Lake Mead Marina and Katherine Landing stood alongside Brown’s family.

After brief words of remembrance, rangers unveiled the new placard on the starboard side of the park’s first official fire boat, which reads “Ranger T.K. Brown.”

Another sign, fabricated and donated by Ramsey and Sons, is hanging inside the pilot house. It includes a quote on an arrowhead that reads, “I am not here for Me. I am here for We and We are here for Them.”

The fireboat is an all-hazards response vessel with the versatility to respond to many different types of incidents that occur throughout the park. The boat can fight fires with its 1,500 gallons-per-minute fire pump. It also has the capacity to hold up to ten people. It has a large open deck with a drop-down bow and the ability to support SCUBA operations.

Following the dedication, Lake Mead rangers conducted a demonstration of the fire boat’s capabilities and invited the family aboard for a ride along to the Boulder Islands.

As the fire pump was deployed in the middle of the lake, two rainbows appeared. Bonnie recalled that it was at this time on that day that she got the call. She said the rainbows were for him.

“It’s important that we never forget folks in public service,” said Chief Ranger Adam Kelsey. “We have rangers out here, battling extreme heat, seeing over 8 million visitors a year, and all along we’ve been doing a tremendous job – some at their own sacrifice sometimes. It’s important that we never forget them.”

Brown will continue to be remembered at Lake Mead and throughout the state of Nevada. In May, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval added Brown’s name to the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which rests on the Nevada Capitol grounds.

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