posted by Ladder54.com

The following protocol is to assist IAFF local affiliates in the event of a line-of-duty
death of a member. This information is provided for assistance purposes. Each
individual affiliate must evaluate its local conditions and utilize, amend, or change
these recommendations accordingly.

After the notification of a death of a member, the fire chief should immediately
inform union officials and the fire department chaplain.

Fire department should be informed that the local union official(s) wish to
accompany those department officials who are dispatched to notify next of kin. After
family has been officially notified, the fire department and the local union should
notify all members.

Local union president must immediate appoint an individual with the sole
responsibility of planning for the deceased members funeral.

In order for the local union to be fully prepared the following initial information
must be gathered from deceased family as soon as possible. A union/department
member should be immediately assigned as a family contact to assist the family and
serve as the liaison between the family and those planning the funeral.

If the family requests a departmental funeral, funeral director should be so
notified. The funeral director makes arrangements with the church, cemetery, etc.
The union/department should make arrangements for the funeral director to receive
deceased's uniform in the event of a departmental funeral or if requested by family.

List of pallbearers must be obtained from the family. Honor guard members
should be selected, usually chosen from house and company members, and scheduled
to stand at casket during viewing at funeral home. For funeral service rifle/colors
honor guard and ushers should be selected.

Arrangements must begin immediately on site selection for Memorial Service (if
planned) and for collation (reception) following funeral/memorial service. Vendors
should be immediately solicited for assistance.

The local union must determine the availability of the following:

Determine whether church cards (last alarm) are desired and arrange with printer
for production (if cards are to be printed). This must be done immediately to allow
for printing time.

Secure space from local hotel(s). Remember that fire fighters from throughout the
International will attempt to attend funeral. Select one hotel as base for International
Principal Officer(s), Vice President(s), and staff.

Establish liaison with police department. The police department can assist with the following.

For line-of-duty departmental funerals the following protocol should be arranged.

Funeral Director is responsible and has the primary concern of assisting the family,
including bring them into church, and seating. Department should select Chief-in-
Charge for directing and coordinating fire department and fire fighter involvement
in funeral.

Honor Guard should post colors prior to church service. Honor guard should be
posted outside church on both sides of entrance. Fire department personnel, union
officials, fire fighters and civic delegates should line up with honor guard to street.
Family passes between ranks. In all instances, family should enter church ahead of
any dignitaries. Ushers should keep front right part of church open for members and
delegates. After body is greeted all march into church and are seated in the following

Fire Chief
Union President
International Principal Officer(s)
Local union officials
Deceased's company
Delegation of department's chief officers
Members of department
Members of other fire departments

All remain standing until all fire fighting delegations are in place.

At conclusion of service, ushers will direct fire fighting delegation to street where
they resume original places, facing church, under direction of chief-in-charge.
Pallbearers then proceed out of church with body followed by family and other
mourners. Chief-in-Charge gives command for salute as body is brought from church
and placed in hearse.

After services, funeral director assembles procession. Chief-in-Charge directs all
fire fighting personnel, proceed by colors to march ahead of procession to designated
pass-in-review position. If desired, a designated fire house could be chosen for pass-
in-review. Fire house should have apparatus on apron, with all on-duty personnel at
attention, bells tolling as procession passes. After pass-in-review procession proceeds
to cemetery.

Chief-in-charge shall be responsible for assembling fire fighters at grave site. It
should immediately be determined how many mourners the cemetery and/or grave
site area can accommodate. Committal is usually for family and close friends.
Apparatus can be detailed to cemetery gates with fire fighters in full dress.

Arrangements can be made for bugler for TAPS and sole bagpiper for playing
Amazing Grace, or appropriate hymn. Local musicians unions or schools can usually
provide these individuals if unavailable on fire or police department.

Dismissal from grave site is generally followed by reception.

The ringing of the bell and the Fire Fighter's Prayer are two traditions of the fire
service which reflect respect and honor to those who gave their lives to their duty. The
ringing of the bell represents the end of the emergency and the return to quarters, and
is usually three rings of the bell, three times. Both are provided for local adoption.

After notification of line-of-duty death is completed, flags at all jurisdiction's
properties (government center, fire stations, schools, etc.) should be lowered to half-
staff in honor of fallen fire fighter.

Flags at jurisdiction's properties should remain at half-staff from date of death
through the day of committal.

Flags at fire stations and union hall should remain at half-staff for a period of 30
days. Funeral bunting, if used, should also remain on fire stations and union hall for
30 days.

After notification of line-of-duty death is completed, badge covers should be
placed across the face of each member's badge. Badge cover should remain for 30

The men and women of today's fire service are confronted with a more dangerous
work environment than ever before. We are forced to continually change our
strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks.

Our methods may change, but our goals remain the same as they were in the past,
to save lives and to protect property, sometimes at a terrible cost. This is what we do,
this is our chosen profession, this is the tradition of the fire fighter.

The fire service of today is ever changing, but is steeped in traditions 200 years old.
One such tradition is the sound of a bell.

In the past, as fire fighters began their tour of duty, it was the bell that signaled the
beginning of that day's shift. Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded
by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in
jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizen. And when the fire was out and the alarm
had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of that call. When
a fire fighter had died in the line of duty, paying the supreme sacrifice, it was the
mournful toll of the bell that solemnly announced a comrades passing.

We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect on those
who have given so much and who have served so well. To symbolize the devotion
that these brave souls had for their duty, a special signal of three rings, three times
each, represents the end of our comrades' duties and that they will be returning to
quarters. And so, to those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their
fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well done, to our comrades, their last
alarm, they are going home.


When I am called to duty, God
Wherever flames may rage
Give me strength to save a life
Whatever be its age.

Let me embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling
To give the best in me,
To guard my friend and neighbor
And protect their property.

And, if, according to your will,
While on duty I must answer death's call;
Bless with your protecting hand
My family, one and all.

The IAFF Executive Board first adopted the IAFF funeral protocol in May 1989.
The latest edition was revised and adopted in July 1997.