Thursday, January 7, 2010


I knew it was going to be a rough time as soon as I hit the door. Most of the people in there were our people. The place was packed and it was jumpin', the occupants well warmed up.

As I had one last detail to perform, I was a couple of hours behind most of the people in there. I showed up wearing a hoodie over my class "A" shirt and was still wearing my patent leather shoes. The first person to see me was the association president. His flushed skin, goofy grin and wide open arms told me that he had been there a while and had been busy. Five seconds later, my evil medic pushed a pale ale into my hand and I tried hard not to spill it as I embraced several of my brothers. That hand was never empty for long.

After a sendoff, It is customary for members of the K.B.F.P.D to meet at O'Malley's and hoist a few in honor of the departed. Attendance is not "mandatory", but still a lot of the members show up. A good cross section of the department is usually present, including Chiefs, prevention and administrative staff.

There has been a lot of emotion built up in the hearts of the people of the K.B.F.P.D. lately. Tonight was going to see a rapid and intense release of grief and sorrow and a replacement with fond memories, laughter and remembrance. The process would be well lubricated.

My intent was to have a few beers with my crew, see some people I hadn't seen in a while and leave. I was beat, both emotionally and physically and I just wanted to get home and get some sleep. It was not to be.

 The evil medic ensured that my hand was never empty during the two hours I was at O'Malleys.  Many toasts to our departed brother occurred, all accompanied by hugs, shouts and revelry.

After I realized that the point of no return had been reached and that I would not be driving myself home, I concluded that I needed this release, that the regular tears and mourning were not sufficient in this case. After a short while, I became as animated as everyone else, sharing thoughts and feelings that I would not normally disclose. Frankly, by the end I was a little sloppy. Actually I was pretty wrecked.

After a couple of hours of toasts, hugs and memories I realized another threshold was approaching and therefore it was time to stop. The Evil Medic was departing, my firefighter had left a little earlier.Although many members of the K.B.F.P.D. were still present and going strong, I called my oldest son to pick me up.

For the first time in years, I recieved no argument from him when I made the request. I can't get him to bring the trash cans in from the curb without an argument, but this he agreed to without a word. Maybe he knew that this was something I needed. He was there within a few minutes along with a friend. I was soon home, safe and sound.

Some of you may read this account and feel that this ritual is juvenile amd archaic. You may be right, however for some of us, it's something we need to do.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Great post, Capt.
    Not juvenile at all in my book. I always felt it provided a release of emotions and a way to come together and rekindle the bonds between the people! Sometimes you feel a little embarrassed in the morning but once everyone realises that they all feel the same, life goes on with a little lighter step!
    Have a great day and stay safe, Capt!

  2. You know, Capt., I feel like it is an honor to even be able to read the things you care to share with us. Muted, yet sincere. It's obvious how much you care about the things that really matter.

    I don't have anything of value to offer you right now. Just know that a lot of us are thinking of you guys.

  3. To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

  4. There is so much about these past weeks that I could have written. My love for my friend, his family and my colleagues supersede my need to write about one of the most intimate, personal experiences in my life.

    Thanks to all.

  5. No worries Capt, well deserved release that we all need once in a while.

    Carry close your memories and cherish them as you should.

  6. Capt,

    I've been there quite a few times in my 20 year fire service career so I know exactly how you feel and what you mean. Matter of fact, I'll be heading to a going away party for one of our brothers who just got his orders to redeploy.

    I will hoist 2 brews tonight. One for you and one for the fallen brother...