By John M. Malecky
FINAL FAREWELL TO A FALLEN FIREFIGHTER: A Basic Fire Department FuneralProtocol
By: William C. Peters
21-00 Route 208 South
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
In this 12-page booklet, William C. Peters lays down a foundation for the preparation of a firefighter’s wake and funeral. Though it is an event we may not want to think about, we all must acknowledge the fact that life here on earth is not forever. As tragic as it is, some firefighters do not live to retirement but pass on, sometimes in the line of duty or even traveling to and from work. It is a sudden occurrence in some cases or it can be delayed by a period of suffering in others. Regardless of the circumstances, Peters offers thoughts as well as examples of handling the final farewell.
The booklet is written for a Christian-type burial. Some of the suggested procedures would apply to other faiths, some would not.
Topics include the family’s wishes, honor guard, funeral planning, considerations (including if the deceased lived out of town), ceremonies, procedures from leaving the funeral home, marching/driving to the church, and leaving the church. There are also suggested procedures for at the cemetery and a few words about critical incident stress debriefing.
This publication addresses a subject that really has never been formally outlined for the fire service to read. It is published as a courtesy to the fire service. The charge is merely to cover postage and handling.
John M. Malecky is a 31-year veteran of the Bayonne (NJ) Fire Department and battalion chief with Battalion 2. He joined the department in 1970 and was named a lieutenant in 1987, a captain in 1994, and a battalion chief in 2000. He is author of Apparatus Deliveries in Fire Engineering.