Local firefighters lending hand to AZ community - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Local firefighters lending hand to AZ community


Some local firefighters will leave Sunday for Arizona to help honor the 19 firefighters who were killed last week while fighting a massive wildfire.

Mutual aid is ingrained in the firefighting community, helping other departments whenever they're in need.

In this case, no one can save those 19 fallen firefighters, but they can help make sure they get the hero's send-off they deserve.

The final bell ring, calling a firefighter home - it is one of those sounds that lets survivors know their fallen hero is not forgotten.

"The entire nation is mourning, and the fire service is mourning.  All we're doing is telling the survivors, 'thank you,'" said John Hesson with the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team.

The organization is sending three trailers stocked with all the supplies they'll need to run behind-the-scenes work for memorial services and funerals for 19 firefighters.

"These guys were heroes to so many in that town.  We're going to see all of the town showing up, neighboring towns, neighboring departments, the magnitude is just going to be huge," Hesson said.

And physically and emotionally drained firefighters there will need help with the task of honoring those men, everything from how to say the right words to hanging flags.

"We've got a 'How to write a Eulogy' book," Hesson said.

The hope is to try and take the burden off those who knew the fallen men, to let them grieve too. 

"They went to do what they were trained to do, and they were trained very well at it.  Situation just changed on them, and, unfortunately, we're having memorialize 19 people, rather than shake their hands and say, 'job well done,'" Hesson said.

The Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team also helps families when there is a local firefighter death in Missouri.

They help survivors wade through the federal, state and local benefits process.  In this case, they'll leave that to local agencies in Arizona.

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