The Pratt Volunteer Fire Department laid to rest one of their own on Saturday, Assistant Chief Michael Edwards. It was the first of two funerals honoring the firefighters that lost their lives March 24 in an accident.
“It’s tough,” said Rod Johnson, Deputy Fire Chief of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department. “There’s no way around it.”
About 2500 first responders and people from the community gathered at Riverside High School for the funeral.
“I knew there was a brotherhood, but I didn’t realize how tight that brotherhood is until it happened to us,” said Johnson.
It’s been one week since a Pratt volunteer fire truck crashed while responding to an accident, killing Assistant Chief Edwards and Lt. Tom Craigo. After the service, the procession drove past Paint Creek Road where the tragedy unfolded.
“It wasn’t only us affected,” said Johnson. “There were multiple agencies on that scene. This has affected not only those guys, but everyone you see here today is affected by this.”
Those other fire departments have stepped in to help, in more ways than one.
“Those folks who were first on the scene, who had to do the hard work, they’re going to be affected the most,” said C. W. Sigman, Director of Emergency Management for Kanawha County. “But they’ve got their friends, and just like the Pratt Fire Department, they have some time to heal and they’ll come back at their leisure and all their friends are going to step in and cover for them. We’re going to make sure the citizens still have fire protection.”
Normalcy is a long way off, but for the Pratt Fire department, all the support will slowly help them heal.
“It’s very overwhelming,” said Johnson. “I’ve never been a part of something this big and I believe we’ll get through it. We’re going to get through it, it’s just going to take some time.”
Pratt Mayor Eric Holcomb provided an update Saturday via Facebook on Chief Timmy Walker, saying he is off the ventilator and talking.