MEMPHIS, Tenn — On the day a Shelby County firefighter would have been 54-years-old, the department honored him with a fire engine dedication.
Lieutenant Terry Watts died in 2021 from COVID complications. Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, the Shelby County Fire Department held a dedication ceremony, with his name added to one of its fire engines.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Watts’ family, and fellow firefighters were on hand to honor him.
His mom said he loved working for the fire department so much, that he wanted to work there until he died.
"That’s all he talked about,” said Lula Watts-Hall. “I'm … ‘Terry, when you gonna give it up?’ He said, ‘Momma, I'm not gonna do it. I want to die on the job.’ I really didn't think that would happen, but I guess when you're dedicated, you're determined, so he did what he wanted to do."
The engine will be at the fire station on Trinity and Germantown Road.
The SCFD posted this dedication to Watts on its Facebook page:
"It has been some time since the SCFD endured a significant, heavy and enduring loss when Lieutenant Terry Watts passed away during 2021. His absence has been felt every day since.
In the tradition of remembering with distinct honor, those who have died in the line of duty, The Command Staff of the Shelby County Fire Department wanted to dedicate our newest pumper to his memory. In a loving and somber gathering, it was revealed that this new Pierce apparatus - SCFD Engine 65 - "The Bridgewater Express" will also forever be known as "The Lieutenant Terry Watts".
Members of his family were here at headquarters today to see the unveiling of his name plaque at the hands of Fire Chief Benson and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. "It's not the way someone wants to get their name on a fire engine" remarked Chief Benson "But if it's going to be done then individuals like Lt. Watts are the very fire fighters that must be properly remembered in a way such as this. "He made us proud in many ways and continues through his legacy to inform and instruct the next generations of fire fighters. "We miss him very much."
So, if you happen to be out on the road in east central Shelby County and catch a glimpse of the new and stalwart "Bridgewater Express", take a moment to glance above the pump panel where his name is. Then perhaps you can reflect on the things that made us care so much for him.
God Bless You Lt. Terry Watts."