Florida Fire Chiefs Association hosts first annual memorial service on the Panhandle in 25 years

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — “The fire service, it’s a family, it’s a brotherhood. A lot of people that are not in the fire service truly don’t understand that,” said Terry Parris, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Division Chief.

This Sunday was about recognizing and remembering the brave men in the Florida Fire Service who have died.

Flags across the memorial service read, “nine agencies, one family.”

“We live a third of our lives with our family at the fire station. We work 24 hours on, 48 hours off. Some are 48 hours on, 96 hours off, but it’s a unique bond. We truly become a family,” said Parris.

Not only were there fire chiefs from all across Florida at the ceremony, but family members also got to be a part of the special service.

“We, you know, get to spend some time and let them know how much we appreciate the service that their loved ones gave to the fire service,” said Ty Sylcox, Florida Fire Chief Association’s President.

Nine men were honored at this year’s ceremony. That included those who died in 2019 and 2020.

Last year’s ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19. Two of the fire chiefs who were remembered this Sunday died from the virus.

“It’s been a very difficult year. We’ve lost a lot of fire service personnel to COVID and also law enforcement because they’re exposed to this every day,” said Sylcox.

It wasn’t all sad though, the ceremony gives fire chiefs from across the state a chance to unite and extend their work family.

“You meet people from south Florida, northwest Florida, all over the state. It gives us an opportunity to really connect and reconnect,” said Sylcox.

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