Hundreds gather in Boise to honor fallen firefighter

Hundreds gather in Boise to honor fallen firefighter

14 July 2011

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USA — Hotshot crews and firetrucks lined up Thursday morning to honor Caleb Hamm, a firefighter from Boise who died fighting a wildfire in Texas last week.

Hamm was a crew member for the Bonneville Hotshots, a hotshot crew based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

“You may not even know the person but it’s what we do you kinda feel bonded to them cause of the job that we do,” said Deon Berner, member of the Boise Hotshots.

Even the hotshots who did not know Caleb Hamm well still thought of him as a brother. The Boise Hotshots left a fire they were fighting in New Mexico a day early to attend Hamm’s funeral.

“It is a close knit community. They all know each other. They all work side by side on many fires,” said Guy Pence with the Wildland Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

“All hotshots we look at each other as a family,” said Berner.

Caleb was fighting a fire in Mineral Wells, Texas when he collapsed.

“There were heroic efforts to revive him there on scene but they all failed and Caleb passed,” said Pence.

For other hotshot crews, Hamm’s death is reminder of how difficult fighting wildfires can be.

“You don’t realize how tough it is and then when someone gets hurt or when something like this happens you realize just how dangerous this job really is,” said Berner.

A procession including hotshot crews and firetrucks stretched more than a half a mile long. All were lined up to honor a man who had become their brother.

The Wildland Fallen Firefighters Foundation made sure Hamm’s family could be there to see the procession. They flew some of his family out to Boise for the funeral.

“We were able to help them with some airplane tickets, the cost of airplane tickets and the cost of some motel rooms,” said Pence.

The foundation helps the families of wildland firefighters who die in the line of duty or are injured in a wildfire. They’ll continue to support Caleb’s family after he is laid to rest.

“The foundation keeps in touch with them on a weekly, daily monthly basis and tries to tend to their needs too,” said Pence.

Because of the help the Wildland Fallen Firefighters Foundation has given them, Caleb’s family is asking that people make donations instead of giving flowers.

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