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Peculiar community prepares to lay fallen firefighter Chuck McCormick to rest

First responders line procession carrying fallen firefighter to funeral home
Posted at 9:46 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 23:18:35-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was a slow, somber drive for local firefighters as they continued to honor one of their own.

The body of fallen firefighter Chuck McCormick arrived at a Kansas City funeral home Monday afternoon. McCormick, who had been with the West Peculiar Fire Protection District for three weeks, died Sunday as a result of battling a house fire.

But during a procession Monday from Kansas City, Kansas, to Kansas City, Missouri, he was never alone. First responders from across the metro lined his path with emergency vehicles in a show of respect and tradition.

Deeply rooted in decades old tradition – after a firefighter answers what will be his or her last call, customs that have been passed down for generations are put into motion for a fallen firefighter.

"A funeral isn't just to honor the firefighter himself for the sacrifice they made," said Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Walker with the Kansas City Fire Department. "It's as much to show the family you are part of our firefighting family now and forever more."

A sentiment that McCormick's family will soon feel as plans for the 30-year-old husband and father of three are finalized.

"We just want the family to know more than anything, it's to honor the sacrifice," Walker said, "and, unfortunately, in Kansas City it happens all too often."

Part of honoring that sacrifice comes from a firefighter’s last ride, where in the bed of a pumper truck, their casket goes for one final ride to their eternal resting place.

"That's something that means a lot to the family," Walker said. "It means a lot to us because, you know, that person, when they got on the firetruck for the last time, they had no idea that it was going to be their last time. You know in the back of your head it could be."

Many times departments hold a bell ceremony for a fallen firefighter’s last alarm. Ringing a bell with a different tone from those at their station – resembling one last call for service.

"And that's just their final call,” Walker said. "Every fire department has different traditions, and it depends on when that department started, the traditions they've upheld, but there are those general traditions of the last ride and the last alarm."