“Last alarm resonates through my soul”

This is directed at those with a love and passion for the fire service. I hope you will take a minute to read about my experience of participating in the Ventura County (CA) Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the Oxnard (CA) Fire Department Honor Guard. I must first thank God for putting me in a position to be a trusted servant, for which I am grateful and humbled.

I attended Oxnard Fire Department’s memorial service for Captain Scott Carroll, the department’s first line-of-duty fatality, and for Ventura County (CA) Fire Department’s Engineer Ryan Osler, who died this year in a tragic vehicle accident while en route to the Canyon Fire on Vandenburg Air Force Base.

I have been a member of our flag-folding team that honors the men and women who came before us and died in the line of duty. As we received the flag after all uniformed personnel saluted with the utmost respect, we quietly folded it to present to Captain Carroll’s wife and family. My thoughts were swirling: “The sky is calm. The sky is blue. There is an overwhelming sense of peace. There is a statute of a firefighter holding a child in front of the memorial. The names of Captain Carroll and Engineer Osler are now etched into the granite wall for eternity. These men have passed, but their passion, love, laughter, and spirit live on in the lives they have touched.”

After a moment of silence, a few remarks, and a prayer by the chaplain, I rang the bell to honor all 44 firefighters who died in the line of duty since 1909 (photo). The bell was rung in remembrance of each man who paid the ultimate sacrifice. As I rang the final two bells, commemorating Captain Carroll and Engineer Osler, I could feel the deep sense of sadness and loss of their wives and family members by my side. Mrs. Osler was to my left. I had never met her, yet I had this small part in letting her know her husband died with tremendous honor and respect.

Photo by Ron Brubaker; used with permission.
Photo by Ron Brubaker; used with permission.

At the end, I rang the bell three times for each of the two firefighters being honored, signifying their final calling and eternal rest. I can still feel and hear the bell resonating through my body and spirit.

No matter what our differences might be, we came together on this day representing the true tradition of the fire service forged hundreds of years ago. With tears in my eyes, I was so proud to be an Oxnard firefighter, honored to participate in these families’ sad, yet special, moments.

I invite you to reflect on your career and family and to celebrate all the wonderful aspects of the fire service. We are proud and hold our heads high knowing that we are together as one in this great profession. We are trusted servants.

Bryan Andrews

Firefighter

Oxnard (CA) Fire Department Station # 7

Editor’s Note: 2016 Emergency Response Guide (ERG). The issues that are part of the free distribution allocation have the following error: On page 13, ROAD TRAILER IDENTIFICATION CHART, Compressed Gas/Tube Trailer, the correct Guide page is 117. According to HazSim®, this error appears only in the free guidebooks; it was corrected in those available for purchase.

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