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California Fires Claim the Life of a Firefighter

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  • #16
    Memorial Service

    Huge crowd expected at fallen Novato firefighter's memorial

    (San Rafael-AP) -- Thousands are expected to attend a memorial
    in San Rafael this week for the Novato firefighter who died
    battling the wildfires in Southern California.
    Steven Rucker died October 29th when a firestorm swept over his
    four-man crew as they fought to save a house in San Diego County. A
    fire captain was seriously injured and the other two men suffered
    less serious injuries.
    The ceremony Wednesday is expected to draw more than five
    thousand people -- including firefighters from all over the West.
    Governor Davis was expected to attend.
    The ceremony will include a video on Rucker's life, an honor
    guard and an American Indian prayer delivered by Novato Police
    Chaplain Jo Ann Osborn.

    (Marin Independent Journal)

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

    Comment


    • #17
      SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) - Friends, dignitaries and thousands of
      firefighters will attend a memorial service Wednesday to honor
      Steven Rucker, the only firefighter to lose his life battling the
      wildfires that ravaged parts of Southern California last month.
      Rucker, a 38-year-old fire engineer from Novato, north of San
      Francisco, died fighting the Cedar Fire in San Diego County October
      29. The fire burned 280,278 acres, destroyed 2,232 homes and killed
      13 other people.
      At least 5,000 mourners - including 3,000 firefighters from
      California and other parts of the west - were planning to attend
      the service, according to Sgt. Doug Pittman of the Novato Fire
      Protection District. Many firefighters started arriving in their
      fire trucks on Tuesday afternoon, Pittman said.
      Several elected leaders, including Gov. Gray Davis, Gov.-elect
      Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Gov. Cruz
      Bustamante and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, also planned to take part in the
      service.
      The 11 a.m. ceremony will include a video on Rucker's life, an
      honor guard and an American Indian prayer delivered by the Novato
      police chaplain.
      One of eleven members of the Novato Fire Protection District to
      go south to fight the wildfires, Rucker and his crew were trying to
      save a mountain home near the town of Julian when a fast moving
      wall of flames overtook them.
      The blaze killed Rucker and left another crew member, Capt. Doug
      McDonald, hospitalized with second-degree burns over 28 percent of
      his body. Two other crew members, Shawn Kreps and Barrett Smith,
      were treated for minor injuries and released.
      Friends and co-workers described Rucker, an eleven-year veteran
      of the department, as a gregarious man who loved his job and was
      active in the community. He and his wife Cathy, a chemist for the
      U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, had moved into a new home in Novato
      just five months earlier with their 7-year old daughter and 2-year
      old son.
      A memorial fund to help Rucker's family has been established in
      his name.

      (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
      Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

      *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
      On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

      Comment


      • #18
        Rest In Peace!

        SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) - Friends, family and thousands of
        fellow firefighters gathered Wednesday to honor Steven Rucker, who
        died doing the job he dreamed of since kindergarten.
        Colleagues memorialized Rucker as a big-hearted man who off the
        job could be found dressed up as chief elf at an annual toy drive
        or watching "Looney Tunes" with his children.
        Rucker, a 38-year-old fire engineer from the San Francisco
        suburb of Novato, died Oct. 29 battling one of the fires that
        ravaged Southern California. He had volunteered to go south and
        fight the Cedar Fire, which burned 280,278 acres in San Diego
        County, destroyed 2,232 homes and killed 13 residents.
        On Wednesday, fire trucks with red lights churning drove past a
        phalanx of firefighters in ceremonial uniform who stood beneath a
        brilliant sun. Parked outside the memorial auditorium was the
        engine Rucker and his crew rode to the front lines.
        About 3,000 firefighters from California and other parts of the
        West came. Many arrived in their trucks Tuesday afternoon - among
        them Capt. Dennis Rogers of the Oceanside Fire Department in San
        Diego County.
        "We're all in the same family. When one falls, it's like
        someone in our own department fell," said Rogers, whose crew
        fought another of the fires. "It's especially poignant because
        Steve came down to fight a fire in our county."
        The firefighters were joined by elected leaders including
        Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Gray Davis, who praised
        Rucker a "genuine American hero."
        The ceremony began with an American Indian prayer delivered by
        the Novato police chaplain.
        Friends wiped away tears as they watched a video on Rucker's
        life, showing him growing up, embracing his wife Cathy and their
        two young children, and working the job he loved. The pictures were
        set to the country music of Shania Twain, one of his favorite
        singers.
        Novato Fire Chief Jeffrey Meston eulogized Rucker as a devoted
        colleague and natural father.
        "Even before he had children, Steve was our most devoted
        Santa's elf," at an annual toy drive, Meston said.
        "Steve was probably the most genuine, decent and
        straightforward human being I've ever known," Meston said. "There
        were never any hidden agendas with Steve - qualities which made him
        easy to tease, but easy to love like a brother."
        Mementos of Rucker's life were arranged across the stage: his
        Eagle Scout uniform, firefighting jacket and boots and the license
        plate from his car which read FIRE RUC.
        One of 11 members of the Novato Fire Protection District to
        fight last month's fires, Rucker and his crew were trying to save a
        mountain home near the town of Julian when a fast moving wall of
        flames overtook them.
        The blaze killed Rucker and left another crew member, Capt. Doug
        McDonald, hospitalized with second-degree burns over a quarter of
        his body. Two other crew members suffered minor injuries.
        "I can't think of anything more painful than losing a
        brother," said Capt. Gordon Winningham, a Fresno firefighter who
        served as part of the honor guard. "It's a tremendous brotherhood
        we have worldwide, and when we lose one, it hurts."

        (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

        Comment


        • #19
          JUST NEEDED TO ADD MY 2 CENTS WORTH

          Rest in Peace My Brother.

          Firefighter hailed from near and far
          1,500 cohorts attend Steve Rucker's San Rafael memorial

          Chuck Squatriglia, Chronicle Staff Writer Thursday, November 13, 2003
          Steve Rucker never wanted to be anything but a firefighter.

          It was a dream that began when he was 5 years old and never missed an episode of the 1970s firefighting drama "Emergency." It continued as a young man whose first date with the woman he would later marry ended with a trip to the local firehouse.

          Nothing was going to stop him from fulfilling his goal, even his bad eyesight. When his vision wasn't quite good enough to make the cut at the Novato Fire Protection District, he spent $8,000 on surgery to have his eyes fixed.

          "I never knew anyone who wanted to be a firefighter as much as Steve," said Novato Fire Chief Jeffrey Meston, who took Rucker under his wing when the eager young recruit joined the force 11 years ago. "Steve lived and breathed his dream."

          It was a dream that exacted the ultimate price. Steven Liss Rucker was 38 when he died Oct. 29 on the porch of a house he was struggling to save from the biggest wildfire in California history, the Cedar Fire in San Diego County.

          On Wednesday, two weeks to the day after Rucker's death, Meston eulogized "the Ruckster" during a memorial at the Marin Civic Center that drew more than 1,500 firefighters, some from as far as New York City. Few had ever met Rucker,

          but it didn't matter. He was a firefighter, they said, and that made him a brother.

          "When one of us falls, we all fall," said Ron Owens of the Oceanside Fire Department in San Diego County. "We all feel it. We're all one department."

          More than 400 fire trucks from throughout California rolled down Avenue of the Flags to the Civic Center. One by one, firefighters wearing dress blues and black bands over their badges filed past the fire truck to which Rucker was assigned to when he died -- Engine 6162 -- and into Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

          It took 45 minutes to get them all inside. When the last seat was filled, hundreds more were ushered into a nearby exhibit hall to watch on closed- circuit television.

          Outside the auditorium, an honor guard of firefighters -- backs straight, chins out and gloved hands at their sides -- flanked the truck and a large portrait of Rucker, surrounded by roses. Few of them could bring themselves to do more than glance at the truck, still streaked with soot from the fire that scorched its paint and melted its taillights.

          Many of them had stared down the same fire that took Rucker's life and those of 13 others -- a fire that, though contained, continues to burn -- and knew that, but for a twist of fate, it might have been them being memorialized.

          "You think about what happened," said Gary Snyder of the Reno Fire Department, which sent 24 firefighters to the Southern California fires. "It sends chills down my spine. One mistake, one bad judgment ... it could have been any one of us."

          For some, the emotions of the memorial were especially painful.

          "I can't go inside," said Danny Noonan, a firefighter from Engine 33, Company 9 in New York City. Ten men from his company were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was one of a dozen FDNY members who came to pay tribute to Rucker.

          "I can't look at the children. I can't look at the family.," Noonan said. "I just can't."

          The two-hour service was a somber affair broken by occasional laughter as friends, colleagues and dignitaries eulogized Rucker as a fearless firefighter,

          loving husband and doting father. Rucker's wife, Catherine, and his two children, 7-year-old Kersten and 2-year-old Wesley, watched from the front of the auditorium.

          "Cathy," said Gov. Gray Davis, addressing Rucker's wife from a stage awash in photographs of the fallen firefighter, mementos and his firefighting gear, "I want you to know that everyone in California is mourning with you today. Steve Rucker embodied the best values our nation has to offer: courage, honor and compassion."

          Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger attended but did not speak.

          Others called Rucker a brave but modest man and a hero who never would have thought the term applied to him.

          "Steve was probably the most decent and straightforward man I've ever met, " Meston said.

          Rucker's passion for firefighting, Meston said, was born of a heartfelt desire to help people. He was the type of man who was the first to volunteer for a job and the last to leave, someone who kept his cool in even the most trying circumstances.

          Maybe that was because he had a lot of kid in him. The slightly heavyset guy with burly arms and a receding hairline was a proud member of the Looney Tunes Cartoon Club -- "he always said it was for the kids," Meston said.

          Rucker had a soft spot for children. Every year he led the Novato department's Toys for Tots program -- always dressing up as an elf -- and bought a pickup truck he named "Big Red" just to distribute toys during the holidays.

          So deep was his love of children, and his desire to help people, that his son's middle name is Evan, after a 10-year-old boy Rucker was unable to save.

          John Hawkins, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry,

          was the incident commander for the Cedar Fire and the man on whose watch Rucker died. He described how Rucker and three other Novato firefighters fought to save a house on a street that locals have since taken to calling "Rucker Ridge."

          Two of those men suffered minor injuries; the third, Capt. Doug McDonald, remains hospitalized with burns over 18 percent of his body.

          Rucker knew the risk he took when he volunteered to go to San Diego, and he accepted it without hesitation, Hawkins said.

          And that, he said, makes Steve Rucker a hero.

          "There's no better job than living your dream," Hawkins said. "Steve Rucker, thank you for being our hero and for living the dream."

          E-mail Chuck Squatriglia at [email protected].
          If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

          "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

          "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

          Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

          impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

          IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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