Members of fire departments across our region will be in Rosetown today to attend the funeral for a volunteer firefighter who was killed in the line of duty.
Darrell James Morrison, 46, was struck by a passing semi while at the scene of a collision between two other semis about 14 miles north of the town Wednesday morning. Life-saving efforts were made by his colleagues at the scene. He was transported to hospital but died a short time later.
Melfort Fire Chief Jason Everett, formerly in that role in Prince Albert, is the vice president of the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs.
He said anytime a first responder dies, it touches the whole community and there had been a clear showing of solidarity across the board.
“That’s what we’re seeing here this week is essentially a global outpouring of support,” he said. “It tends to fit across the realm. It’s by no means just a fire presence but the whole first responder family.”
Everett said the reality for firefighters is that helping at a scene on a busy road can be more dangerous than a burning building.
“Probably the most dangerous environment, the one that involves the most risk to firefighter injury and fatalities is anytime we’re working along a travel portion of a roadway,” he said.
Province-wide solidarity for a fallen colleague
The level of solidarity being shown across the province after the loss of one of their own is widespread.
“We are all firefighters and it is devastating when you hear of anybody within our profession losing their lives especially in such a way,” North Battleford Fire Chief Trevor Brice said. “A firefighter is a firefighter, whether they are a volunteer or full time and any line of duty death is needless as far as we are concerned.”
Brice said upon first hearing the news he immediately informed his staff to make sure they remain fully vigilant when attending such incidents and that these things can happen, as that is the nature of the job.
“[We want to] make sure our colleagues in Rosetown and the many volunteer fire departments know they are supported and we here for them if required,” he added.
Battleford Fire Chief Larry Gabruch echoed these comments and said he has been reflecting on the many close calls his own department has endured. Thankfully, he said, the detachment has never lost a member on the job.
At least two members from the city and three from the town’s detachment are set to attend the funeral to show solidarity and lend support to their firefighting family.
“I hope it lends strength to the remaining members on that department as they work through their loss and continue to serve their community going forward,” Gabruch said of seeing representatives. “It is the neighbourly thing and the Saskatchewan thing to do.”
Both fire chiefs preached vigilance among drivers when passing highway or grid road collisions, pleading with drivers to drastically reduce their speeds and remain focused on the road.
“Some people get distracted by the emergency lighting and start rubbernecking and almost forget they are driving,” Gabruch said.
The detachments have worked effortlessly over years, due in part to the many close calls, to ensure when their members are attending the scene, drivers are given adequate notice of the incident.
“It is incumbent on others to make sure we make the scene as safe as possible,” Brice added.
Hundreds of firefighters from across Western Canada are anticipated to attend the full honours funeral planned at the Rosetown Civic Centre. The service will begin at 2 p.m. with an honour guard, a pipe and drums band and a funeral procession that could involve many fire apparatuses.
“We’re a family, we’re a fire department family much like all fire departments across Canada, so ... it rips your heart out,” Rosetown Fire Chief Dennis Ogg said. “Darrell was truly in love with the fire service, he was dedicated, very dedicated.”
In a post on Facebook, Cheyanne Morrison, Darrell’s daughter, who is also on the volunteer department, wrote that words “cannot describe the pain I feel right about now.”
“I lost not only my dad but my number one fan,” she added.
The mayor of Rosetown has said the death was hitting the town hard, especially as the community was already grieving the loss of five members of the Gasper family.
Counselling services are available in the town to those in need, while a trauma team was set up at the Rosetown Youth Centre.
With files from CKOM
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