Last Alarm Bell
History of the Dallas Retired Firefighters Association's
LAST ALARM BELL
Denny Burris, former Chaplain of Dallas Fire Rescue and current Chaplain of the Dallas Retired Firefighters Association, provided the inspiration and leadership to initiate the LAST ALARM BELL SERVICE into a ceremony that was meaningful and respectful for the families of deceased firefighters. In 2006, serious thought was given to purchase a bell to sit upon an old hose cart. The Firefighters Museum had an old hose cart that stood about four and one half feet, three feet wide and had iron wheels. Investigations began to search out the right bell for use as our LAST ALARM BELL. Inquiries were made to the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Maryland. Their recommendation was a bell that was eighteen inches at the base. It was very attractive and honorable looking. Now the question arose as to how to pay for the cost which was $6000.
It did not take much searching to decide that the Dallas Retired Firefighters Association would be the right organization to fund such an endeavor. The DRFFA would not only fund the project but also would provide the personnel to produce the complete package, i.e. the bell
mounted on the hose cart and the HONOR GUARD to present the service. The retirees had a major investment in the DFD and this would be a method that we could continue to contribute to the Department we loved while paying tribute to the lives of those who gave sacrificially to its development. The DRFFA was overwhelmingly supportive to the extent that their contribution exceeded $13,000.
Once we received the bell from the manufacturer, it became evident that the cart had been selected was not going to be large enough to support the bell. It did not take too long to discover that Battalion Chief Stuart Grant had a cart that he was not using at the Fire Training Academy in McKinney where he taught. It certainly was larger and had large wood spoked wheels. It was weathered, but it had potential. The wheels were restored and after the making of the large oak yoke, the cart was painted, assembled and mounted in its trailer by retirees Larry Mobley and Richard Hernandez in Canton, Texas. After many hours of a labor of love and many dollars of worthy costs, the bell was complete.
The next order of business was to assemble the LAST ALARM HONOR GUARD, the group which would deliver the LAST ALARM SERVICE. This responsibility was given to Retired Battalion Chief Charlie Pitman, and in very short order he developed procedures and recruited, organized, and trained the 30 member LAST ALARM HONOR GUARD.
Unfortunately, the first use of the LAST ALARM BELL was at the funeral service for Lieutenant Krodle who DIED IN THE LINE OF DUTY. Though its debut was a sad occasion, it was an emotional introduction of THE BELL into the tradition of our Dallas Fire – Rescue Department. Since this occasion, we have provided a meaningful ceremony at more than 250 services. The history of this BELL will be determined by those who carry on its vital contribution.