Funeral Services Set for Fallen Missouri Firefighter

April 21, 2008
Firefighter Rick Morris died last Thursday, just more than a week after he was severely burned while fighting a house fire.

SEDALIA, Mo. -- Friends and co-workers spent Friday preparing to honor the memory of fallen Sedalia firefighter Rick Morris.

Morris, 54, died Thursday at a Columbia hospital, just more than a week after he was severely burned while fighting a house fire.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the gymnasium at Sacred Heart School. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

A visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Sacred Heart Church. A prayer service will start at 7 p.m., followed by a firefighters walk-through.

Morris, a fire inspector, began his career with the Sedalia Fire Department in December 1974, more than 33 years ago. He suffered second- and third-degree burns over half his body while fighting a house fire April 8 at 1209 S. Kentucky Ave.

Morris was the 43rd firefighter who died this year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Morris' was the first Sedalia firefighter's death on duty since Edward Shine died Dec. 3, 1971, according to city records. Shine suffered a heart attack.

The Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team was helping the Morris family and the city with arrangements, said City Administrator Keith Riesberg.

"They've been a tremendous resource," he said.

Funeral assistance team members were making sure fellow firefighters have the opportunity for counseling and coordinating outreach from other departments throughout the state.

They're helping make arrangements for outside firefighters to provide fire protection for the city during the funeral and visitation to allow all the firefighters to attend, Riesberg said.

City staff members are trying to decide whether to close City Hall Tuesday or operate with less staff, Riesberg said.

"We're going to kind of work out these issues as more of these things are finalized on Monday," he said. A City Council meeting scheduled for Monday evening, during the visitation, will go on as scheduled, Riesberg said. The council is scheduled to elect a mayor pro tem at its meeting, and must do it Monday to comply with state statutes.

"We have to select a mayor pro tem before the fourth Tuesday of the month," Riesberg said.

Flags were flying at half-staff Friday at City Hall, the Sedalia Fire Department and several other places.

Several firefighters, their families and friends planned to line Broadway Boulevard with flags beginning Sunday evening in honor of Morris. Tony

Monsees is lending the flags to the effort.

"We need to do something to let everybody know how much we appreciated him," said Tammy Rucker, wife of firefighter Steve Rucker. The International Association of Firefighters Local 823 established a fund for the Morris family at U.S. Bank, 116 W. Fourth St., Sedalia MO, 65301.

Republished with permission of The Sedalia Democrat.

Related Stories:

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!