It was the last call for Firefighter A4.
Carthage Firefighter Steve Fierro, who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty last Wednesday, was mourned, remembered and celebrated Monday morning for what he meant to family, friends and the community of firefighters.
Hundreds shared their grief and tears at his funeral service at Ozark Christian College and followed a procession of dozens of area fire trucks to his burial at Park Cemetery.
"We lost a good one," a Carl Junction firefighter said to a fellow firefighter at the cemetery.
Battalion Chief Ron Hitchcock told those gathered at the cemetery that Fierro died doing what he and other firefighters love to do.
"This is what we do," Hitchcock said. "This is our chosen profession."
"Steve died doing what he dearly loved doing," said Minister Lynn Ragsdale during the service in the Multi-Purpose Building at Ozark Christian College. "Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where's there's fire, there's Steve."
Ragsdale said there are so few people in life who get to do what they love doing and Fierro was one of those lucky ones. He also said Fierro was a hero long before last Wednesday when he died in a structure fire north of Diamond.
"Does it not seem a month or a year since last Wednesday?" Ragsdale asked.
Ragsdale reminded his audience that bad things happen to good people and that life sometimes is not fair.
"No one wants to be here," he said. "We all want to be here today.
"No no in this place would be anywhere else today, to be here for Steve."
Ragsdale also explained that Fierro's Christian faith did matter and that there was a mansion waiting for the fallen firefighter. That he was going to a "much better place."
"Steve was loved," Ragsdale said. "I loved Steve. I haven't met a person that didn't love Steve. Steve had that smile to lighten your load."
Ragsdale gave a few final words of encouragement at Park Cemetery.
"Cling to those memories and enjoy them," he told Fierro's family.
At the graveside service the traditional ringing of the bell - in three groups of three - rang out as those present said goodbye.
Hitchcock said the sound marked the end of Fierro's tour of duty.
The ceremony also included the playing of "Taps" and a fly-over by the two air ambulances that serve out of the Joplin hospitals.
Besides many family and friends, firefighters and law enforcement from throughout the area and beyond demonstrated the impact of Fierro and the community of firefighters. Fire trucks from Aurora and Logan/Rogersville, Southern Stone County and Neosho, Monett and Miami, Baxter Springs, Ozark and Nixa were just some of the many that came to the funeral and lined the 17-mile procession back to the cemetery, not far from where Fierro did his job.
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