Sunday, June 20, 2010

Caveat Lectores on the Firefighter Family

Brothers and Sisters,

FYI: What you should know about Denver Fire Department IAFF Local 858 and what they did for our Fallen Brother:

When Billy was first flown to the Trauma Center in Denver our guys out there couldn’t immediately travel the 160 miles to be with him due to the weather. When Local 858 President Pat Rhoades was notified of this situation he contacted his guys at the closet station to the hospital and sent an Engine Company to the Hospital to stay with Billy until our guys arrived some 12 hours later. By the time our guys arrived in Denver the next afternoon Local 858 had arranged hotels and a rental car for their use. Their members picked up Billy’s family from the airport when they arrived, took them to and from the hospital, took our guys and Billy’s family to dinner each night and made sure they had everything they needed while other Local 858members continued to take turns standing with them all at the hospital every day that Billy was there.

When it was time to bring Billy home they treated him as one of their own with the respect and honor he deserved. The Colorado Professional Firefighters sent out a request for all affiliates to show respect for Billy by placing an apparatus in the procession that would take Billy to the Airport. In less than 24 hours Denver FD had organized a full FD procession from the funeral home to the airport:

At 4am on the morning of June 19, DFD Local 858 Pres. Pat Rhoades picked up Billy's brother and myself to assist us in bringing Billy home. We were taken from the hotel to a downtown Denver firehouse where we met up with the oncoming crew how had come in early to ride in the procession with us. We left the firehouse in a Heavy Rescue Fire apparatus escorted by all 4 firefighters and headed to the funeral home to escort Billy to DIA. In the true tradition of a Firefighter funeral we were taken past the downtown firehouses where the trucks were out on the aprons with the lights on and FFs in Class “A”s stood at attention saluting. When we arrived at the funeral home we were met by numerous other uniformed Denver Firefighters, Company Officers and Chiefs along with off duty personnel, (all of whom joined the procession in fire apparatus, POVs and on motorcycles). Four uniformed Denver firefighters assisted President Rhoades and myself as Pallbearers as the rest of Billy’s uniformed Brothers from Denver stood at attention. As the procession left the funeral home at 5am [with a motorcade escort provided by Denver PD] two fire apparatus flanked the driveway facing nose to nose while Denver Firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the procession passed between the vehicles. When the hour long procession arrived at DIA the Airport FFs where standing by at attention beside their apparatus in Class A uniforms saluting. The procession split at this point and the fire apparatus carrying Billy's brother and myself headed to the terminal, the Hurst and all the POVs and motorcycles turned off and took Billy to the secured area where he would be placed on a flight home.

It did not matter to them that Billy was not from Denver FD. It did not matter to them that they had never met Billy before. It did not matter to them that it was 4am in the morning. All that mattered to them was that Billy was a Brother Firefighter, he was in their City and they could help.

What it felt like to see this type of support for our Fallen Brother and his family is something that cannot be put into words, but it is something I will forever remember. Quite simply “they got it right” and hopefully if we are ever faced with a similar situation will we all strive to reach and maintain the level of Brotherhood that Local 858 exemplified.

President Rhoades and Todd Revious from Local 858 will be in Ft Lauderdale Tuesday through Thursday to attend Billy's services, please take a minute to thank them in person for all they have done.

Debbie Rittinghouse
Secretary Local 4321

Billy Carr was a 30 firefighter and union leader who died recently when struck by lightning during a trip out west to visit the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Being a member of the brother and sisterhood is part of the reason why firefighters run into burning buildings when all others are running out. It is what they do when others need help. If this did not bring a tear to your eye, you know you are not a firefighter.


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