Firefighters say goodbye to one of their own
The polished firehouse bell’s piercing peal struck the hearts of family and friends that gathered to pay final respects to Snowmass firefighter Edward Jerin at the Farnum-Holt Funeral Home in Glenwood Springs Saturday morning.Family and friends said goodbye to a father, husband, son, brother and firefighter. There were hugs, tears, handshakes and the ring of the bell.Comfort comes in many ways.”Uniformed personnel, ten-hut,” a voice called.Twenty-one of Jerin’s firefighter brothers and sisters in dark-blue dress uniforms stood at attention, their arms rigid in salute. Adjacent to them, Jerin’s immediate family stood with their heads bowed in loving memory.Each peal of the bell struck the eardrums with an uncomfortable sharpness.Snowmass Wildcat Fire Department (SWFD) Deputy Chief John Mele, along with SWFD chief Steve Sowles, tended the bell with crisp white cloth gloves that softened their pressed-blue suits.”These rings signify the firefighter’s final return,” Sowles said.Three sets of three rings, the official designation for an engine’s final return to the firehouse. Sets of two, six and two strikes of the bell followed in remembrance of the retired firefighter’s number, 262.
The bell rang true. A job well done. A life well lived.A final goodbye from his family of firefighters to one of their own. One brother in dress blues, a piece of black tape crossing his badge in sorrow, wiped a tear from beneath his glasses.Comfort comes in many ways.”Uniformed personnel retire,” the voice called out.At once the firefighters turned to the right and filed, single file, out of the funeral home as a bagpipe wailed “Amazing Grace” in the background.”Normally this ceremony is done for a firefighter who died in the line of duty,” said one of Jerin’s brothers and SWFD captain Scott Arthur. “Under the circumstances, we felt it was appropriate to give him a traditional firefighter’s funeral, even though he didn’t lose his life on duty.”Jerin lost his fight with pancreatic cancer on Sept. 8, but he retired from the SWFD nearly two years ago due to his medical condition. But Ed surely served his community as a firefighter and EMT paramedic for 30 years with several agencies including SWFD, Silt ambulance and earlier for the Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Service (BHAS) in Indiana before moving to Silt in 2002.A career deserving of an honorable send-off from his fellow firefighters.”This is a day that we have all not looked forward to,” said New Life Church Pastor Thom Jones. “But a day that will come for us all. We are here to celebrate a life well known.”Comfort comes in many ways.
Jerin’s son, Ed Jr., approached the funeral home as the morning sun rose on a day like none other he’d before experienced, his father’s fedora upon his head. It was a day he’d never again experience.”He was loved,” he managed with quivering voice. “It’s going to be quite a send-off.”Many friends made the trip from Bloomington, Ind., to attended the service. Among them, director of the BHAS David DeGroote, who made his first trip to Colorado to pay his final respects to an old friend. He found comfort in the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters.It comes in many ways.DeGroote stood at the podium, dressed in his blue uniform, and spoke of Jerin’s bravery as a firefighter. His words described not only the lives Jerin saved in the line of duty, but the lives he touched throughout his life.”He’s the light that shines bright in the darkness,” DeGroote said. “Driving through the mountains of Colorado I realized that this is a scene of God’s greatest work. I will also say that some of God’s greatest work was in Ed Jerin.”DeGroote folded the paper in front of him, removed the glasses from his nose and returned to his seat.When Jerin retired, he left the job, not the firefighting family.”The department continued to look upon him as one of the department,” Arthur said. “Because he was.”
Like a brother in life, the first time a person is dressed in the pressed-blue suit of a firefighter, they are part of something larger. Something that many may never understand.A comfort in numbers. An honor in blue.As the bell rang out, firefighters stood silent and motionless. They stood as friends. They stood as brothers and sisters. They stood as family to honor his memory and his family.”No matter how you leave, as a brotherhood and a family, you are still one of us,” Arthur said. “Once you’re in, you’re in forever.”Comfort comes in many ways.Contact John Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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