Firefighters at the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland were heartbroken when they arrived at a raging house fire on February 2 to find that a seven-year-old boy had succumbed to burn injuries while trapped inside.
Although there was nothing they could do to save the child, there was something they could do for the family, which couldn't afford to hold a funeral. The firefighters unanimously agreed to pay for the child's funeral out of their department's operating budget. And this isn't the first time they have done so.
Capt. John Lyon said they knew there were people trapped inside the blazing structure as they responded on February 2. Dispatch had told them they heard screaming over the phone.
When firefighters arrived on the scene they found that everyone had escaped the house except for one little boy. "The family was yelling at us as we ran up to the house," Lyon said. One crew searched for the child while other crews protected them and fought the flames, which were coming from the back of the house. The child's body was found in the burning back area, where a bedroom and family room were located.
When Lyon followed up on the family, he discovered that they couldn't schedule a funeral for the child because they didn't have the money.
Lyon decided to approach the the department about covering the expenses. "Before I even asked the question they were like yes we're gonna go ahead and do it," he said, and Lyon called the family to offer their assistance.
"As you can imagine they were very emotional," he said.
The funeral was held Wednesday, and the family members all came up and hugged the five firefighters who attended, Lyon said.
This is the second time the department has covered funeral expenses for a child.
On April 17, 2002 they rescued two children from a burning townhouse, but one of the children, a five-year-old boy, died as a result of his injuries. That child's family also could not afford a funeral, so the department stepped in.
The first funeral cost about, $1500, and the recent funeral cost $1,000. Each time, the department had the families make arrangements and then gave a check to the funeral home.
Lyon said that if they encounter such tragic circumstances in the future, they would certainly try to help again.
"Obviously, it breaks your heart when you run into something like this," he said. "But on the flip side, it's things like this that become the highlight of your career as a firefighter, when you can help someone out like that."