Friends and family pay their respects at the funeral for 39-year firefighter Chris Brown. (photo by Stephanie Pawlowski/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - The greatest asset of a city is its employees, and Bloomington officials recognized slain firefighter Chris Brown on Monday.
The Bloomington City Council took a moment to honor the fallen Bloomington and Hudson firefighter. City Manager David Hales said it was important for the council to understand how much hard work the department and city's Employee Assistance Program had performed in helping the family and friends in the wake of such tragedy.
"I couldn't help but be moved by the brotherhood shown by our fire personnel," Hales said. "You see what happens when we lose a member of our city family."
Hales said he hopes the council will continue to make the investment in equipment and vehicles to ensure that all public safety employees have the best to minimize the risk and exposure.
Bloomington Fire Chief Mike Kimmerling told the council that a dark day for the department was made easier by phenomenal help from the firefighting community at-large.
"The amount of outpouring of support we've gotten from every avenue has just been tremendous," Kimmerling said. "It has been a very difficult time but our thanks have to go out to almost every department in McLean County and even departments outside of our county."
The department received assistance offers from Champaign, Chicago, Decatur, Peoria, and Rockford. He gave special thanks to the Normal Fire Department for sitting in during the funeral so that all Bloomington personnel could attend.
"I will just tell you without their assistance we wouldn't have been able to get today done," Kimmerling said. "Their personnel came, their EMTs came and staffed our department and ran our calls because as you well know even in times like this the calls don't stop."
The Bloomington Police Department also supplied officers to assist visiting departments in knowing where to respond to calls.
"The citizens still need the service and it's not something we can just shut off and say sorry we have to take the day off," Kimmerling said. "Bloomington Township, Downs, Dale Township, Heyworth, Lexington, Towanda, Danvers, Carlock, they all gave us crews to cover us."
Brown was killed on Mar. 5 while responding to an accident on I-39. Citations were given to a 28-year-old Spokane, Wash., man for allegedly violating Scott's Law and for driving too fast for the winter conditions. Scott's Law requires drivers to proceed with caution to avoid emergency vehicles.