Archive for the 'Last Call' Category

Sample Fire Department Funeral Guidelines

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Sample Fire Department Funeral Guidelines are for review only, not necessarily recommended by SWNHDFMA.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this guide is to help establish procedures that will ensure proper support and care for a firefighter’s family after the death of an active member of the fire department. These guidelines will also help ensure that proper honors are rendered.

OBJECTIVES

To standardize burial protocol

To promote the honor and respect for the fallen firefighter

To establish lines of authority and responsibilities during notification, funeral and burial proceedings

To establish criteria for each type of funeral: Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV

To establish criteria as to whom these honors are rendered

CLASSIFICATIONS

Class I- A Class I death is to be considered for members of the department who are killed at the scene of an emergency incident or killed in responding to or returning from the scene of said incident. A Class I death will also include those that are injured at the scene and who later die as a result of these injuries. Class I will NOT include individuals who die of heart, lung, or other causes while not engaging in emergency activities at the time of death.

Class II- A Class II death pertains to members of the department who dies while on duty, but not due to injuries sustained while performing emergency activities.

Class III- A Class III death is a death occurring when an active employee is off duty and not relating to any emergency activities.

Class IV- A Class IV death pertains to the death of a retiree of the fire department.

NOTIFICATION

Line of Duty Death (Class I & II)-

The Chief Dispatcher on duty at the time of the incident will be responsible for contacting the Fire Chief and the Chaplain.

The Fire Chief and the Chaplain will be responsible for contacting the families of firefighters that have been killed in the line of duty. If the firefighter’s next of kin are outside of the local township or county, it is the Chief’s responsibility to notify the fire or police department nearest the family, and to arrange that a uniformed officer, preferably from the fire department, and accompanying local chaplain, to contact the family in person.

The Chaplain will be responsible for notifying the Public Information Officer and the Funeral Coordinator. Additionally, the Chaplain will contact any fraternal or employee organizations.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) will be responsible for contacting the Mayor’s office, City Counsel, and any other appropriate dignitaries. The PIO will also notify all other stations within the department.

The Funeral Coordinator will notify the Honor Guard/Memorial Team.

Active Members/Off Duty Death (Class III)-

Department members that have knowledge of a fellow firefighter’s death are encouraged to notify the department through the Chief Dispatcher.

The Dispatcher will then notify the department Chaplain and Administration after receiving and verifying prevalent information on the member’s death and applicable funeral information.

The Chaplain, once notified, is then responsible for contacting the family and offering department assistance.

The Chaplain would then contact the department Funeral Coordinator and appropriate fraternal and employee organizations as per the family’s wishes.

The department Administration will announce the death and any funeral/memorial arrangements to all stations.

The Funeral Coordinator will contact the Honor Guard Coordinator as per the family’s wishes

Retiree Deaths (Class IV)-

The family of the deceased retiree is responsible for contacting the department if they wish department participation in the funeral service.

The Chaplain is responsible for contacting the family upon knowing the family’s wishes for the department’s participation.

The Chaplain then will contact the Funeral Coordinator and the Honor Guard Coordinator.

Official Announcement

The official announcement to the department should be made by the Chief or by a designated Communications officer assigned by the Chief.

The announcement should follow a set format, and be from the perspective of the Chief or ranking officer, regardless of who reads it.

The verbal announcement should be followed with typed copies to be distributed for posting in each station, with a follow up announcement once funeral plans are finalized.

After this announcement is made within the department, it may be made available as a formal written statement to the appropriate media outlets.

Sample Announcement

I, Chief __________, am sorry to report the death of ____ (number) of our brave firefighters. _____________ (name or names) died at _________ (time) (date may be necessitated, especially if death was not immediate) while __________ (actively working on, responding to, returning from) incident number _______ at _________ (location). Funeral arrangements are pending at this time, however, a formal announcement of the arrangements, and the department’s participation will be made, within the wishes of the family (or families).

ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Funeral arrangements are the ultimate responsibility of the family, but the fire department will provide assistance if requested.

The Funeral Coordinator is responsible for coordinating all necessary department personnel before and during the funeral services. Additionally, the Funeral Coordinator will notify the Honor Guard Coordinator, Shift Coordinator, and any other appropriate agencies to be involved in the services. The Funeral Coordinator insures that the funeral/memorial runs smoothly.

GUIDELINES FOR SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED TO FAMILY BY THE DEPARTMENT

Class I- Line of Duty Death-

Prior to Services

Transportation to funeral home/cemetery to make arrangements

Services of Department Clergy/Chaplain offered to family

Services of Department Funeral Coordinator offered to assist family in making arrangements

Arrangement of Police Escorts for processional to cemetery

Chapel/Church Service

Fire Apparatus for processional to graveside (as well as standing fast at the funeral home during all viewing and visitation)

Color Guard at service

Pipers and Drum Corps at service

Graveside Service

Arched Aerial Ladders with Hanging Flag at entrance to cemetery

Fire Apparatus at gravesite

Color Guard

Services of Department Chaplain, if family wishes

Department Honors/Ceremony

Flag folding and presentation

Pipers and Drum Corps

Bugler to play ‘Taps’ at cemetery

Fire Walk of Honor

Class II- On Duty Death Not Pertaining To An Emergency Scene-

Prior to Services

Transportation to funeral home/cemetery to make arrangements

Services of Department Clergy/Chaplain available to family upon request

Services of Department Funeral Coordinator available upon request to assist family in making arrangement

Arrangement of Pall Bearers in appropriate uniforms

Arrangement of Police Escorts for processional to cemetery

Honor Guard at Casket

Fire Apparatus for processional to graveside

Color Guard at service, upon request

Pipers and Drum Corps at service, upon request

Graveside Service

Fire Apparatus at gravesite

Color Guard, upon request

Services of Department Chaplain available

Flag folding and presentation

Pipers and Drum Corps, upon request

Class III- Off Duty Death-

1. Prior to Services

Services of Department Clergy/Chaplain available to family upon request

Services of Department Funeral Coordinator available upon request to assist family in making arrangements

Arrangement of Pall Bearers in appropriate uniforms, upon request

Arrangement of Police Escorts for processional to cemetery, upon request

Chapel/Church Service

Honor Guard at Casket

Uniformed Personnel at service

Uniformed Personnel to serve as Pall Bearers, upon request

Pipers and Drum Corps at service, upon request

Graveside Service

Services of Department Chaplain available

Pipers and Drum Corps, upon request

Class IV- Retiree Death

1. Prior to Services

Services of Department Clergy/Chaplain available to family upon request

Arrangement of Pall Bearers in appropriate uniforms, upon request

Arrangement of Police Escorts for processional to cemetery, upon request

Chapel/Church Service

Honor Guard at Casket

Color Guard, upon request

Uniformed Personnel at service

Uniformed Personnel to serve as Pall Bearers, upon request

Pipers and Drum Corps at service, upon request

Graveside Service

Services of Department Chaplain available

Flag folding and presentation

Pipers and Drum Corps, upon request

GUIDELINES FOR THE FUNERAL/MEMORIAL SERVIC

Class I- Line of Duty Death

All available department personnel to attend in full class ‘A’ dress uniform, including off duty members.

All members will wear a black band over their badges from the time the death is announced until 24 hours after finish of service, and up to one week after death.

All department flags will fly at half-staff from the time the death is announced until at least 24 hours after finish of service, and up to one week after death.

All regular uniformed personnel will remain covered while outdoors, except during prayers, and uncovered indoors.

All Honor Guard members will be covered at all times during the performance of their duties.

Seating will be reserved as such that the family is nearest the casket followed by the Pall Bearers, the department officers, descending in rank, followed by all other members of the home department. Following that will be all visiting uniformed firefighters, from the longest distance traveled to the least traveled. The City Mayor, Councilmen, and other dignitaries (from Local to most Broad (i.e. Federal)), will be seated either to the side of all firefighters, or directly behind the home department.

Upon conclusion of the service, all personnel, starting with the Pall Bearers, and going further from the casket, will file out, being the first to leave, to assemble outside in preparation of the passing of the casket.

The casket will precede the family filing through the assembled firefighters to the Fire Apparatus or Funeral Coach of choice.

Directly behind the casket as it exits the chapel/church will be the immediate family, followed by extended family and all other attendees.

The Pall Bearers will then place the casket on the appropriate apparatus, or in the funeral coach, if chosen

Class II- On Duty Death-

1. All available department personnel encouraged to attend in full class ‘A’ dress uniform, including off duty members.

2. All members will wear a black band over their badges from the time the death is announced until 24 hours after finish of service.

3. All department flags will fly at half-staff from the time the death is announced until at least 24 hours after finish of service.

4. All regular uniformed personnel will remain covered while outdoors, except during prayers, and uncovered indoors.

5. All Honor Guard members will be covered at all times during the performance of their duties.

6. Seating will be reserved as such that the family is nearest the casket followed by the Pall Bearers, the department officers, descending in rank, followed by all other members of the home department. Following that will be all visiting uniformed firefighters, from the longest distance traveled to the least traveled. The City Mayor, Councilmen, and other dignitaries (from Local to most Broad (i.e. Federal)), will be seated either to the side of all firefighters, or directly behind the home department.

7. Upon conclusion of the service, all personnel, starting with the Pall Bearers, and going further from the casket, will file out, being the first to leave, to assemble outside in preparation of the passing of the casket.

8. The casket will precede the family filing through the assembled firefighters to the Fire Apparatus or Funeral Coach of choice.

9. Directly behind the casket as it exits the chapel/church will be the immediate family, followed by extended family and all other attendees.

10. The Pall Bearers will then place the casket in the funeral coach, if chosen

Class III- Off Duty Death

1. All available department personnel asked to attend in uniform,including off duty members.

2. All members will wear a black band over their badges from the time the death is announced until 24 hours after finish of service, and up to one week after death.

3. All department flags will fly at half-staff from the time the death is announced until at least 24 hours after finish of service, and up to one week after death.

4. All regular uniformed personnel will remain covered while outdoors, except during prayers, and uncovered indoors.

5. Seating will be reserved as such that the family is nearest the casket followed by the Pall Bearers, any department officers who wish to attend, followed by all other members of the department. Following that will be any visiting uniformed firefighters. Any dignitaries will be seated either to the side of all firefighters, or directly behind them.

6. Upon conclusion of the service, all personnel, starting with the Pall Bearers, and going further from the casket, will file out, being the first to leave, to assemble outside in preparation of the passing of the casket.

7. The casket will precede the family filing through the assembled firefighters to the Funeral Coach.

8. Directly behind the casket as it exits the chapel/church will be the immediate family, followed by extended family and all other attendees.

9. The Pall Bearers will then place the casket in the funeral coach.

Class IV- Retiree Death

All available department personnel to attend in full class ‘A’ dress uniform, including off duty members.

All members may wear a black band over their badges from the time the death is announced until 24 hours after finish of service.

All uniformed personnel at the service will remain covered while outdoors, except during prayers, and uncovered indoors.

All Honor Guard members will be covered at all times during the performance of their duties.

Seating will be reserved as such that the family is nearest the casket followed by the Pall Bearers, department officers, all other members of the home department, all visiting uniformed firefighters, and any applicable dignitaries

Upon conclusion of the service, all personnel, starting with the Pall Bearers, and going further from the casket, will file out, being the first to leave, assembling outside in preparation of the passing of the casket.

The casket will precede the family filing through the assembled firefighters to the Funeral Coach.

Directly behind the casket as it exits the chapel/church will be the immediate family, followed by extended family and all other attendees.

The Pall Bearers will then place the casket in the funeral coach.

GUIDELINES FOR PROCESSIONAL TO, AND ASSEMBLY AT GRAVESIDE

Class I- Line of Duty Death-

Note: There are two options for processing to the graveside, marching and vehicular procession.

Marching Processional- It is the responsibility of the Honor Guard Commander/Coordinator to ensure that the order for the marching processional is as follows, and that the Bugler is standing by at the cemetery

Piper (s) and Drummer (s)

Color Guard

Clergy/Department Chaplain

Apparatus/Funeral Coach with Pall Bearers and Honor Guard Escort

Immediate Family

Fire Chief, Department Officers in descending order of rank, and Dignitaries from most local to most broad

Home department uniformed personnel

Visiting Department uniformed personnel from the longest distance traveled to the least traveled

Home Department Additional Apparatus

Visiting Department Apparatus from the longest distance traveled to the least traveled

All other miscellaneous vehicles

Vehicular Procession Only- It is again the responsibility of the Honor Guard Commander/Coordinator to ensure that the order for the vehicular processional is appropriate, as follows, and that Piper (s), Drummer (s), Bugler and Color Guard are standing by at the cemetery.

Lead Car provided by funeral home, containing appropriate Clergy/Department Chaplain

Apparatus/Funeral Coach, with Pall Bearers riding inside if apparatus, or immediately following family in one vehicle if funeral coach

Car or Limousine with Immediate Family

Fire Chief Car followed by officer cars and dignitary cars

Additional Home Department Apparatus

Visiting Department Apparatus from the longest distance traveled to the least traveled

All other Home Department Personnel, if in personal vehicles

All other Visiting Department Personnel, if in personal vehicles

All other Miscellaneous Vehicles

Assembly at Graveside

Two crossed Aerial Ladders with a draped flag shall be at the entrance to the cemetery, so that the entire processional goes underneath them in entering

The Piper (s), Drummer (s) will be assembled approximately 100 yards from the gravesite, and the Bugler will assemble approximately 20 feet past the gravesite

Fire Walk of Honor- the members of the home department shall line up on both sides of the path, in an organized fashion from the Coach/Apparatus to the graveside, approximately 10 feet apart with all additional home department firefighters, and visiting department firefighters lining up behind the front row of firefighters

Once the firefighters are appropriately assembled, the Color Guard will line up at the beginning of the Walk of Honor followed by the Clergy/Chaplain

At this point the Pall Bearers will remove the casket from the Coach/Apparatus and the Honor Guard will command ‘Firefighters, Attention’ All firefighters will then come to attention, awaiting the command ‘Firefighters, Present Arms’ which will signal the Pall Bearers to begin carrying the casket down the Walk of Honor, and all firefighters will render a hand salute just as the casket nears them.

The casket will be followed in order by the Immediate Family, the Fire Chief and Officers, in descending rank, command staff, and other dignitaries

Once the casket reaches the gravesite, the piper (s) and drummer (s) will begin playing ‘Amazing Grace’ as they approach from the distance, marching to approximately 20 feet from the foot end of the graveside

After the piper (s) and drummer (s) reach their appropriate places, the command ‘Firefighters, Order Arms, Fall In’ will be given, instructing the firefighters to move from their places in the Walk of Honor, to orderly lined directly behind the family, who are to be seated directly in front of the casket

The appropriate Clergy/Chaplain then should step forward with the graveside message, which should include the 23rd Psalm, and Firefighter’s prayer, depending upon the wishes of the family.

At the close of the graveside message, the Clergy/Chaplain will then commence with ‘Let us now pray.’ At this time, all are expected to remove and order their covers to their sides, and bow their heads in respect.

Once the Clergy/Chaplain has finished his prayer, all personnel will recover, and the Honor Guard will remove the flag from the casket, and fold it for presentation to the family.

The flag will be passed from one member of the honor guard to the honor guard commander, with both members of the honor guard saluting as it passes.

The presentation to the next of kin will be made by the honor guard commander, who will present it as he explains, ‘This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful ________ (city, township, county, etc.), as a small token of our appreciation for the honorable and faithful service, and great sacrifice of your loved one.

It is then appropriate for the dispatcher to read this farewell message over the radio. ‘The members of the _________ Fire Department wish to thank ______________ (rank and name) for his/her ___ (#) years of services to the citizens of this (city, city, township, county, etc) of ________ (name). Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten.’

At the conclusion of this, the Honor Guard Commander will command ‘Firefighters, Attention, Present Arms’ and the bugler will begin to play ‘Taps’

At the conclusion of ‘Taps’ the command ‘Firefighters, Order Arms’ will be rendered, and the firefighters will stand at attention until the family has begun to depart.

At this point the honor guard commander will command, ‘Firefighters, Dismissed’ concluding the services

Class II- On Duty Death

Procession- It is again the responsibility of the Honor Guard Commander/Coordinator to ensure that the order for the vehicular processional is appropriate, as follows, and that Piper (s) and Drummer (s) are standing by at the cemetery.

Lead Car provided by funeral home, containing appropriate Clergy/Department Chaplain

Funeral Coach, with Pall Bearers immediately following family in one vehicle

Car or Limousine with Immediate Family

Fire Chief Car

Additional Home Department Vehicles

Visiting Department Vehicles

All other Home Department Personnel

All other Visiting Department Personnel

All other Miscellaneous Vehicles

Assembly at Graveside

The Piper (s) and Drummer (s) will be assembled approximately 100 yards from the graveside

At this point the Pall Bearers will remove the casket from the Coach and begin carrying the casket to the graveside

The casket will be followed in order by the Immediate Family, the Fire Chief and firefighters

Once the casket reaches the gravesite, the piper (s) and drummer (s) will begin playing ‘Amazing Grace’ as they approach from the distance, marching to approximately 20 feet from the foot end of the graveside

The appropriate Clergy/Chaplain then should step forward with the graveside message, which should include the 23rd Psalm, and Firefighter’s prayer, depending upon the wishes of the family.

At the close of the graveside message, the Clergy/Chaplain will then commence with ‘Let us now pray.’ At this time, all are expected to remove and order their covers to their sides, and bow their heads in respect.

Once the Clergy/Chaplain has finished his prayer, all personnel will recover, and the Honor Guard will remove the flag, if applicable, from the casket, and fold it for presentation to the family.

The flag will be passed from one member of the honor guard to the honor guard commander, with both members of the honor guard saluting as it passes.

The presentation to the next of kin will be made by the honor guard commander, who will present it as he explains, ‘This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful ________ (city, township, county, etc.), as a small token of our appreciation for the honorable and faithful service of your loved one.

It is then appropriate for the dispatcher to read this farewell message over the radio. ‘The members of the _________ Fire Department wish to thank ______________ (rank and name) for his/her ___ (#) years of services to the citizens of this (city, city, township, county, etc) of ________ (name). Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten.’

At this point the services are concluded

Class III- Off Duty Death

Procession- It is again the responsibility of the Honor Guard Commander/Coordinator to ensure that the order for the vehicular processional is appropriate, as follows, and that Piper (s) and Drummer (s) are standing by at the cemetery.

Lead Car provided by funeral home, containing appropriate Clergy/Department Chaplain

Funeral Coach, with Pall Bearers immediately following family in one vehicle

Car or Limousine with Immediate Family

Fire Chief Car

Additional Home Department Vehicles

All other Department Personnel

All other Vehicles

Assembly at Graveside

The Piper (s) and Drummer (s) will be assembled approximately 100 yards from the graveside

At this point the Pall Bearers will remove the casket from the Coach and begin carrying the casket to the graveside

The casket will be followed in order by the Immediate Family and present firefighters

Once the casket reaches the gravesite, the piper (s) and drummer (s) will begin playing ‘Amazing Grace’ as they approach from the distance, marching to approximately 20 feet from the foot end of the graveside

The appropriate Clergy/Chaplain then should step forward with the graveside message, which should include the 23rd Psalm, and Firefighter’s prayer, depending upon the wishes of the family

At the close of the graveside message, the Clergy/Chaplain will then commence with ‘Let us now pray.’ At this time, all are expected to remove and order their covers to their sides, and bow their heads in respect.

Once the Clergy/Chaplain has finished his prayer, all personnel will recover.

It is then appropriate for the dispatcher to read this farewell message over the radio. ‘The members of the _________ Fire Department wish to thank ______________ (rank and name) for his/her ___ (#) years of services to the citizens of this (city, city, township, county, etc) of ________ (name). Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten.’

At this point the services are concluded

Class IV- Retiree Death

Procession- It is the responsibility of the Funeral Coordinator to ensure that the order for the vehicular processional is appropriate, as follows, and that Piper (s) and Drummer (s) are standing by at the cemetery, according to the families wishes.

Lead Car provided by funeral home, containing appropriate Clergy

Funeral Coach, with Pall Bearers immediately following family

Car or Limousine with Immediate Family

Fire Chief Car

Additional Department Vehicles

All other Department Personnel

All other Vehicles

Assembly at Graveside

The Piper (s) and Drummer (s) will be assembled approximately 100 yards from the graveside, according to the wishes of the family

At this point the Pall Bearers will remove the casket from the Coach and begin carrying the casket to the graveside

The casket will be followed in order by the Immediate Family and present firefighters

Once the casket reaches the gravesite, the piper (s) and drummer (s) will begin playing ‘Amazing Grace’ as they approach from the distance, marching to approximately 20 feet from the foot end of the graveside.

The Clergy then should step forward with the graveside message, which should include the 23rd Psalm, and Firefighter’s prayer, depending upon the wishes of the family.

At the close of the graveside message, the Clergy will then commence with ‘Let us now pray. At this time, all are expected to remove and order their covers to their sides, and bow their heads in respect.

Once the Clergy has finished his prayer, all personnel will recover.

If it is then appropriate, according to local customs, for the dispatcher to read this farewell message over the radio. ‘The members of the _________ Fire Department wish to thank ______________ (rank and name) for his/her ___ (#) years of services to the citizens of this (city, city, township, county, etc) of ________ (name). Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten.’

At this point the services are concluded.