Former Hendersonville Fire Department Chief Forrest C. "Bud" Hendrix died Tuesday, city officials said, calling him a "true cornerstone" of the department.

Hendrix began his career with the department in 1955, serving as a firefighter for 37 years. He advanced through the ranks, becoming assistant fire chief in 1965 and fire chief in 1977, until he retired in 1992.

His vision for the fire department was immediately felt when Hendrix made major plans for advancement in firefighter training, city officials said in a news release. 

His first initiative was developing a comprehensive HFD formal training program. He required all firefighters take a 70-hour course in Advanced Firemanship, followed by a 12-hour pump school.

He purchased new personal protective gear and radio equipment for firefighters, and arranged for the fire department radio transmissions to be monitored by on-duty police dispatchers.

Hendrix changed the inspection process to have all city businesses inspected by fire prevention and inspection officers. He initiated programs for HFD to provide fire prevention in city public schools, churches and civic groups.

Always an advocate for his department, he fought to increase the pay of firefighters, due to their advanced certifications, skills and the evolution of fire service needs of the community.

Hendrix had a pivotal role in the establishment of the Henderson County Firefighter Training Academy.

He had significant leadership roles outside of Henderson County as well. In 1989, he was appointed as a member of the State of N.C. Fire Commission, where his main focus was the State Fireman’s Certification Program. In 1991, he was elected president of the N.C. Firemen’s Association. 

"Hendrix exhibited a deep love for serving the city of Hendersonville and the fire service," officials said in the release. "He had a profound commitment to the firefighters that served with him and went to great lengths to ensure members of the department had the resources and training they needed to serve their community with integrity and honor, creating a legacy still in place today."

After retirement, Hendrix remained active within the city and HFD community. He and his wife Vera, “Toostie,” would make regular visits to the fire department and routinely attended City Council meetings. 

“Chief Hendrix was well respected in the fire service and will truly be missed by all that had the privilege to know him," City Fire Chief Joseph Vindigni said. 

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist of Hendersonville at 204 Sixth Ave. W., with visitation starting at 12:30 p.m.

Following the service, the Hendersonville Fire Department’s Engine No. 1 will escort Hendrix to his final resting place at Forest Lawn Cemetery.