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Organizing Tragedy

Just watching him… in his perfect uniform, everything looks excellent and he did a fantastic job. To watch him walk up with that cap, folded flag, and the badge, hand it to the widow, there was not a dry eye in the place.

 Firefighter Brett Romanow

The Honour Guard prepare to march in front of the ceremonial pumper.

Honour Guard leading the Morley James funeral procession.

Sometimes there is an assumption that modern life has reduced the risks involved in firefighting. No firefighter expects the next alarm to be their last. Risks and danger are still involved; tragedy can strike.

In these circumstances the Honour Guard must ensure the fallen receives the send off they deserve. Well coordinated memorials and funerals send a message to the family and public that the fallen were loved and respected and are a celebration. The military drill and dress are an important part of delivery, showing the department in the best light and providing for every possible need when the worst does happen. The fallen and their families deserve to feel special, and witness the admiration that their colleagues share for them in such a difficult time.

A funeral cask held by pallbearers leaves a church; the path is lined by uniformed and saluting firefighters.

CFD members line the path of David Allan’s casket in 1976.

The entire Honour Guard attends Line of Duty burials. The family of the deceased receives the cap and flag from a member of the Honour Guard. The Pipe and Drums Band join the Guard in accompanying the casket. The use of front line apparatus as a caisson has been a tradition since the very first line of duty death in 1923, becoming one of the most touching symbols of remembrance.

The organisation of the funeral helps to take care of the family, ensuring their needs are met in an attempt to reduce the stress on them during such a traumatic time. The organisation of tragedy is ultimately a way of giving something back to the family, recognising all that they gave throughout their loved one’s time on the department.