Firefighters remembered in Contra Costa

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Salvation Army EDS provides ministry of caring at memorial service.

by Ken Cavallero –

The Salvation Army provided comfort and support at the memorial service for fallen firefighters.

“Prior to working full-time with The Salvation Army, I was a full-time firefighter engineer and have attended many fire and police memorials during the years, including three of my own family. Each service is unique, but the one common thread in each one is the sound of “Amazing Grace” and the sight of the doves carrying the thoughts and prayers of the mourners into the heavens.”

The Salvation Army in Contra Costa County and neighboring communities came together to provide a ministry of caring at a recent memorial service.

On July 21, 2007 Contra Costa Fire Captain Matt Burton, 34, and engineer Scott Desmond, 37, died while unsuccessfully trying to save a San Pablo couple from their burning home.
On July 27 they were remembered as heroes who were doing what they loved and had trained to do, by over 4,000 family members, friends, firefighters, paramedics and police officers from across California, the US and Canada.

During planning for the memorial, Ron Hilliman from the Contra Costa Emergency Disaster Response team acted as liaison with the Contra Costa Fire District. The team has written agreements with the fire district and over the years has responded to many fires in the county, providing food, hydration and comfort.

Hilliman was also coordinating with Ken Cavallero, Del Oro and Golden State Divisional Disaster Services coordinator, who was planning the Army’s response to the memorial. By the time plans were set, the Army was ready with mobile kitchens, officers and volunteers on stand-by.

At the request of the memorial organizers, The Salvation Army provided four mobile kitchens at the entrance of the Sleep Train Pavilion to provide beverages and comfort to the several thousand mourners expected at the service.

Mobile kitchens from Contra Costa County, Sacramento, Napa and Marin County along with Captain Fred Rasmussen (Santa Rosa Corps), Captain Scott Schneider (Petaluma Corps), Captain Michael Johnson (Napa Corps), Captain Tom Stambaugh (San Rafael Corps), Monica Severson (Territorial Disaster Services director) and 14 volunteers from Petaluma, San Rafael, Napa, Sacramento and Contra Costa County distributed over 3,000 individual bottles of water, provided sun screen, talked with and prayed with the mourners before and after the service.

Severson commented: “throughout the morning, the firefighters expressed their appreciation to The Salvation Army for our support in their time of loss.”

At the end of the service 50 white doves were released; they circled the area a few times then disappeared over the hill.

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