Riverside Fire Division Chief Gordon Fowlston recently briefed city aldermen about his trip to help with the funerals of the "Hotshots" firefighters who were killed while battling an Arizona wildfire on June 30.
In a later interview with The Landmark, Fowlston
said that he
and two other Missouri
firefighters, one from Gower and one from Sedalia, left at 4:00 p.m. on July 7 and arrived in Prescott, Arizona at about 11:30 p.m., Kansas City time, the following day.
"We hit the ground running out there," Fowlston
Additionally, almost 300 departments and 800 to 1,000 personnel helped put these memorial services together, Fowlston
"We never would have gotten it done without the other hundreds of guys that were making sure that we had chairs, plants, flowers, chainsaws, or that the Hotshots gear made it to the church and then made it to the cemetery," said Fowlston
said three of the services he
helped with were held in the mountains.
"One of the sites was the Granite Mountain Basin, which is where the team took their name, the Granite Mountain Hotshots," said Fowlston
They had put out a fire at this location just two weeks prior to the tragedy that took their lives.
At another service, flowers enough to fill two semi-trailer trucks had accumulated at the funeral location and the wife of the firefighter asked if she
could use them in her
The next day, Fowlston
spoke at his
"There was probably 1,500 people in this building and there wasn't a person that walked out of this building that didn't have tears in their eyes," Fowlston
asked him if her
speech had seemed weird and told Fowlston
had felt the need to speak to her
husband through those words.
"That was kind of one of our more touching moments I guess for me," said Fowlston
said that although these big events are few and far between, these fire service teams get called out way too often.
"Line of duty deaths in the fire service-we average about 90 a year," he
said of firefighter fatalities across the United States.
"Some people think that's not bad but to me it's too many."
For this year so far he
estimated about 50 or 60 line of duty fatalities and said that the number is high both because of the tragedy in Arizona and also from a Texas fertilizer plant that exploded killing 12 public safety workers.
said they arrived home around noon on Monday, July 15.
"For me it was an honor," he