Funeral Rites Across Different Cultures: First Responders

In the U.S. and Canada, funerals specifically for fallen members of the emergency services are common.  First responder funeral customs reflect honor and respect for their remarkable bravery and service.  Ripe with tradition, police officer and firefighter funerals and memorial services give the proper respect upon the passing of our local heroes who put their lives at risk every day for the public.

Although individual police departments tend to have their own ways of doing things, there is agreement on how to properly memorialize a fallen police officer.  Police officer funerals involve honor guards from the police from across the country.  At such funerals, officers form a parade ground which precedes or follows the hearse carrying the fallen comrade.

In a formal fire department funeral, there may be two aerial trucks crossing extended ladders or booms.  Firefighters may also travel under the aerials on their ride to the cemetery.  It is common practice for the grave service to include the playing of bagpipes.   Bag pipes add a special air and dignity to the solemn occasion, and pipes have become a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero’s funeral.  A “Last Alarm Bell” is rung for a firefighter who died in the line of duty.  At the conclusion of the funeral, a portable fire department bell is tolled by another member of the fire service.

First responder funerals pay tribute to the brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.