RUSSELL, Kan. (AP) - The Russell fire chief, killed while
directing traffic at an accident scene, was remembered Monday as a
dedicated firefighter who lived to serve others.
Chief Earl Hemphill, 61, died Thursday when he was struck by a
Paradise fire truck responding to an accident north of Russell. The
fire truck collided with a Ford Explorer owned by Russell County,
then struck Hemphill, Russell County Sheriff John Fletcher said.
More than 200 firefighters from across the state, along with
hundreds of friends, family and community members, watched as
Hemphill's casket was placed atop a fire truck that he helped
purchase.
Bagpipers and an honor guard led the funeral procession past the
Russell Fire Department and to the cemetery.
State Fire Marshal Gale Haag said Hemphill was known for pushing
to make his small department the best it could be through training
and purchase of the best possible equipment.
"He had a special passion for doing things better, doing them
safer, educating everyone," Haag said.
The mourners included about 40 firefighters and officers from
the Salina Fire Department, where Hemphill's son, Larry, 38, is a
lieutenant.
Hemphill had been involved with the fire department since 1967,
starting out as a volunteer firefighter before being named
full-time chief in 1982.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press.