Contributed photo.Honoring fallen firefighters, both near and far posted on 07/01/2022
The bell ceremony is a fire service funeral tradition that
reflects respect and honor for a deceased firefighter. Throughout history, the
tolling of a bell has been used to summon and give direction to firefighters
during alarms and to signal the beginning and the end of service. The funeral
bell acts as a ceremonial last call and signifies the end of duty for departed
In her role as State Commander of the Oregon Fire Service
Honor Guard (OFSHG), Hoodland Firefighter Amanda Schmitt leads the volunteer
organization as they provide funeral services, including the bell service and
flag presentation, and pay tribute to firefighters as they are laid to rest
across the state.
On June 9 the Honor Guard held a public ceremony honoring
Oregon firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2021, at the Fallen
Firefighter Memorial Wall in Salem. Schmitt also led the Honor Guard in
providing funeral services for retired Hoodland firefighter and volunteer Larry
Morgan on June 11 at the Church on the Mountain in Welches.
The OFSHG was established in 1998 to provide traditional
fire service funeral honors in rural parts of the state that lacked Honor Guard
resources. At the time there were no Honor Guard resources for the rural fire
service agencies in Oregon when one of their current or retired members died.
“That’s who we serve really, the small rural districts,”
Schmitt said. “The state fire service realized there was a need for the honor
and traditions of the fire service at funerals throughout the state.”
The mission of the Honor Guard is to honor the fire service
traditions and remember those who have fallen, while providing support for
their grieving families. The Honor Guard has specific ceremonial protocols for
line-of-duty deaths, active-duty deaths and retired-member deaths.
The organization coordinates with the family and will only
provide the portion of the ceremonial service the family desires.
At the June 9 public ceremony four new names of fire service
professionals that died in the line of duty in 2021 were added to the memorial
wall. All families were in attendance and were able to witness the honors given
to the fallen firefighters.
The Oregon Fallen Firefighters Memorial is located at the
Oregon Public Safety Academy, in Salem. The memorial was dedicated in 2006 and
lists the names of 174 firefighters who have lost their life in the line of
duty in the state since 1881.
Closer to home Schmitt performed funeral services for
retired Hoodland firefighter Larry Morgan on June 11.
Morgan proudly served his community as a volunteer
firefighter/EMS from 1993 until 2017 and in retirement on Hoodland’s Volunteer
“(Morgan) was instrumental in cooking and feeding the
firefighters whenever there were major calls and also at fire department
functions when all the families could gather together,” Schmitt said.
“His family was also a big part of the fire department and
his son Phil also volunteered for a time. Family is priority and the fire
department is usually just an extension of a larger family unit,” she added.
At Morgan’s service the honor performed the bell ceremony,
presented a folded flag to his wife as well as a ceremonial challenge coin and
his helmet to the family.
Schmitt has served in a volunteer role as OFSHG State
Commander for nine years and has volunteered as a member on the OFSHG team
Schmitt has also served the mountain communities as a
volunteer Firefighter with the Hoodland Fire District (HFD) since 2000.
More information about the OFSHG is available online at
http://www.ofshg.org. More info about HFD can be found at
By Ben Simpson/MT