KFD Captain Laid To Rest

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) -- He had four children, and five grandchildren of his own.

But every paycheck, Knoxville Fire Captain Paul Dunn set something aside for the charities that support firefighters and their families.

That was but one symbol of his commitment, a commitment firefighters honor today, on his passing.

When the mile long procession arrived, bagpipes could be heard and shortly after that, a 21 gun salute.

"I guarantee you we wanted to go to extremes for his funeral, but if he knew we were doing all this," said Capt. Darrell Whitaker from the Knoxville Fire Department.

He was suggesting that Capt. Paul Dunn wouldn't have sought it and might have even fought it.

"We had so many people who wanted to help, wanted to do things, and we wanted to let them, because sometimes, you have to let people do something to feel a part of something like this," Capt. Whitaker said.

Poppy, or P-Dub was more than part of the Department, for two and a half generations of firefighters, he was its heart.

"Everything I've had to do since the day I got to the fire department, he's been involved in," remembered Capt. Travis Kincaid. "Anytime I needed gloves, which I seemed to go through a lot on fire scenes, he was always there. There would be many time he would walk up and hand a pair to me, because he knew I would need them by the time it was over."

"He wanted to make sure that his firefighters, his flock, were taken care of," said Capt. Whitaker.

Capt. Dunn was KFD's first Safety Officer and the driving force behind restoring 34 Buffalo, the lead truck in many Knoxville parades.

It was only fitting then, that Buffalo was the hearse that carried him home.

"The only way we can pay him back is to let his family know that we're his and their extended family also," said Capt. Whitaker.

His fellow firefighters say Paul Dunn could have been Chief, several times over.

But it would have taken him away from where he felt most needed, as a mentor and a father figure.

"No matter what you did, he would always laugh it off and put his hand on your shoulder, and tell you it'd be okay," said Capt. Kincaid.

The Knoxville firefighters know they will be okay because their friend is in a better place, and his will continue to run deep.

"He certainly holds the rank of gentleman in anybody's book," said Capt. Whitaker, "not only because of what he meant as a professional, but as a man. This man showed kindness from top to bottom."

Capt. Dunn was still considered an active firefighter, though on medical leave.

He died this past Wednesday of complications from a brain tumor.

He was 70 years old.


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