KFD Firefighters Say One Last Goodbye

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Charleston, SC (WVLT) -- Immense sadness and tremendous pride.

Some Knoxville firefighters still wrestle with both emotions tonight.

Eight are back home after attending yesterday's memorial service for the men, their nine brothers, killed in South Carolina.

Continuing with coverage you'll see only on WVLT, our Mike McCarthy followed the firefighters on their journey to remember.

On Thursday members of the Knoxville Fire Department got packed and said good-bye to their families to spend time with their firefighter family. headed to Charleston, South Carolina.

Let's have a prayer together for safety as we travel," said Paul Trumpore of the KFD.

They traveled to South Carolina to honor nine Charleston firefighters killed Monday.

"That's part of the job, knowing that may happen," said Jeff Kindrick from the KFD.

The eight uniforms bearing Knoxville Fire Department patches joined hundreds outside the memorial service at the North Charleston Coliseum yesterday.

"These aren't just people from another department who died," Kindrick said, "they're our brothers."

And two of them were also friends of Jeff Kindrick, who worked as a firefighter in Columbia, South Carolina for six years.

"We owe it to the fallen," Kindrick said, "but more than that, we owe it to the guys that survived that fire."

But even those who see the faces of strangers feel their pain.

"My heart aches," said Dennis Noe, another member of the KFD. "Every firefighter in the country and every country is our brother, that's just the way it is."

As the bagpipes play on, the ultimate cost of their job is impossible to ignore.

"It was hard," said Mark Morris, a KFD firefighter, "every time the playing of the bagpipes, seeing the expression of the family members, realizing the grief they're experiencing."

But shoulder to shoulder they had each other for support.

Standing alongside hundreds of men and women whom they call their brothers, Knoxville Firefighters say this is exactly where they should be.

"Being here and being a part of this is very helpful in coping and getting through this," Noe said.

Kindrick knows they have to, because fighting fires is what he loves.

"It just reinforces your desire to do it well and protect your brothers," Kindrick said.

So they can protect you.

Jeff Kindrick also broke his back and suffered burns during the McClung Warehouse fire earlier this year.

Both he and the other Knoxville firefighters say the service was a sobering reminder of the danger they could face everyday, but there's no other job they'd rather do.


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