Fire trucks lined up along Poplar Street amidst a bustle of people who came through the Macon-Bibb County Government Center on Sunday to pay respects to the family of a fallen firefighter.
Two U.S. flags -- one that nearly covered the entire front side of the building and another on the flagpole at half-staff -- flew in the air.
The visitation for Lt. Randy Parker, who died in the line of duty Wednesday evening, brought out his friends and family and a parade of firefighters from across the state.
Firefighters from Macon, Gwinnett County, Albany, Henry County, Decatur, Fulton County, Valdosta, Paulding County, Houston County and Warner Robins, among others, were in attendance to give their condolences to family members.
“When one department loses one, we all lose one,” said Shane Hill, chief of Putnam County Fire Rescue.
Parker’s death marks the 10th on-duty firefighter death in the nation this year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration website.
The camaraderie of U.S. firefighters crossed state lines when Macon-Bibb County Assistant Fire Chief Shane Edwards received phone calls from a fire department in Indiana.
Edwards, who’s known Parker since he was a teenager, said those calls have provided comfort. “It helps with the healing process,” he said, adding that he’s proud of Parker and his family.
Two groups, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Terry Farrell Firefighter’s Fund of Georgia, were on hand to provide support.
Wesley Stubbs, deputy fire chief for Fulton County, said they are ready to assist in any way they can.
Stubbs, who is also part of the Local Area Support Team for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, said his organization helps organize the honor guard to serve as doormen and even help park cars.
Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said he was “very grateful” of the community’s continued outpouring of support. Even though on average about 100 U.S. firefighters die in the line of duty each year, he said, the risk is always in the back of your mind.
“Every day, every call, we never know,” he said.
Riggins added that Parker’s widow, Sandie, has been “courageous” in handling the tragedy and that he or someone at the department has been with her every step of the way. “I think she’s doing remarkable under the circumstances,” he said.
One of Parker’s family members has started a memorial fund and donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/maifx0.
The funeral service for Parker will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Macon City Auditorium.
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382.