City pays tribute to brothers and families who made the ultimate sacrifice
Heavy rains and storms are no match for the bonds of brotherhood and family, especially in a group renowned for its tradition, selflessness and sacrifice.
More than 750 people; first responders, family members, friends, colleagues and honored guests; gathered in the rain Oct. 24 to remember the Dallas Fire-Rescue heroes who have answered the last alarm bell since 1902. Families of some 50 fallen firefighters traveled from coast to coast, 12 states in all, to attend the every five year 2015 Memorial Service at the DFR training facility.
On June 23, 1902, chemical engine driver John Clark became the first Dallas firefighter in the history of the young department to die in the line of duty while battling one of the most serious residential fires in the city’s history. Though the Dallas Firefighters’ Memorial Monument was fashioned in his likeness a year after his death in 1903, Clark’s gravesite was lost to the elements and time until 2013 when a group of Dallas
Firefighters, unaware of where the hero was buried, took up the search and restored his grave and those of seven others.
The 2015 Service marked the first time a relative of Clark’s attended, with his great niece, Debra Dilord traveling from the Houston area. For Dilord, attending the Service was akin to meeting new family members.
“It’s truly a humbling experience that the City and firefighters would honor and remember my great uncle and his service even after 113 years,” said Dilord. “We were really happy to attend and be treated like family.”
Sadly, John Clark’s death would not be the last. To date, 70 Dallas firefighters have died serving and protecting the residents of Dallas. Each hero left a legacy that is carried on to this day through every shift and every action of the professionals who stand watch at 57 fire stations over the City’s 385 square miles.
“DFR is such a brotherhood,” said Karen Metters, widow of Edward Metters who died August 21, 1981 battling a 3-alarm blaze. Edward Metters left behind four children, all under the age of five, when he died 34 years ago.”
Coming to this event every five years is like old family week and gives me and my children the chance to see and talk with people who worked with my husband,” said Karen Metters. “The Service is especially important to my children as they were so young when their father died. Coming here, the kids can see how tight the brotherhood is and see our extended family once again.”
For the current lot of active DFR professionals, the Service is equal parts remembrance and education.
“Every time we have this event, you learn so much about those who died, their families and those who didn’t even know they had family who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said DFR Public Information Officer Jason Evans.
Protecting Dallas’ 1.3 million residents requires selfless men and women dedicated to being part of something much bigger than themselves, and willing to give their lives for it. With this obligation comes much sacrifice for the firefighter and their family and friends.
“It is an honor and a privilege to provide this Service to the families of our members who so bravely gave their lives in the line of duty,” said Fire Chief Louie Bright III. “This was the least we could do to show them how their legacies will continue to live on.”
The poem, The Last Alarm, author unknown, best encapsulates the love each firefighter has for his fellow officers:
But now I truly realize the greatest gift a man can give
is to lay his life upon the line so that someone else might live
“It’s about the brotherhood. It’s what makes this life of service so special,” said Evans.
Signal 6-6, brothers.