Normally by this time, the annual memorial services would have just concluded our May programs but we rescheduled in hopes of not having to limit numbers on site. It is never too early to send out a “Save the Date” reminder for the 2021 Candlelight Service. They have been moved to Saturday evening October 9th at 9:00 p.m. and the Sunday morning service to October 10th at 10:30 a.m.
We are planning to honor our line of duty death (LODD) families and departments in-person who were previously planned for the 2020 services in addition to those for this month in 2021 but have been moved to October. We will continue with the planning which goes into both services, gathering of the required information to be presented, and the logistical organization to move forward. While we are still reviewing and refining some details, one new addition for the Sunday service will be live streaming.
The new LODD support trailer with a custom-designed scaffolding system for a casket to hose bed assistance was delayed by the last report but very happy to confirm both are now into the delivery process. The next steps are setting up the trailer and lettering which has moved projected service availability to late June. Brian has put in numerous hours and many miles both by air and car working out the best options in bringing this next operational asset dedicated to giving honors to our fallen. We all hope it will never be needed for the purpose intended but history does suggest otherwise.
The Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team is not recognized often enough for what they do. True to their core values they manage dozens of very important details very quietly deep in the background to keep the primary focus, emphasis, and honors on those who have served and passed.
Just in case you may have forgotten or did not know, Brian Zinanni approached the FFAM Board of Directors and delegates at the 2005 convention in Eureka with a very detailed written business plan for a funeral assistance team requesting $2,500 for a trailer and the equipment that would be needed. It was approved, Brian was put in charge and the program was housed under the umbrella of the Firefighters Memorial Foundation as a logical home. One trailer quickly became two and over a few years grew to four and then five strategically located within the state.
Each of the original trailers has since been replaced with improved size to meet the required inventory of equipment and heavier built due to a lot of hard miles by many different drivers. The new LODD Trailer becomes #6.
The Funeral Assistance Team today is comprised of 55 members and has responded to more than 450 calls for assistance since becoming operational with their first trailer in 2005.
While Brian does not talk about it, they became nationally recognized early on and the program has since been duplicated in several states which is one of the highest forms of validation regarding work well done. They have assisted in the surrounding states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. When the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots were lost in 2013, the Missouri team was the first called, responded with two trailers, and managed seven of the services. That request was recorded as a single response in the team records.
So much goes on outside of public view for the greater good and honoring of those who served their respective communities. That is how Brian envisioned it should be from the beginning and that is how each team member does it to this today.