Friday, hundreds of San Antonio firefighters from across Texas remembered 31-year old Scott Deem, one of their own, as a loyal father and husband, and for heroics in his final hours.
Deem died in a shopping mall blaze last week.
Late morning, a long procession of fire engines and firefighters accompanied Deem’s casket along roadways decked out with American flags, and lined with fellow firefighters from San Antonio and beyond.
“Scott will forever be one of our brothers who we lift up as an example of bravery and commitment,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told a crowded amphitheater at the Community Bible Church.
Firefighters in their dress uniforms and white gloves sat solemly as Chief Hood recalled Deem’s bravery in fighting what Hood called one of the most savage fires of this generation, the shopping mall fire that took Deem’s life
“Scott was a man of God,” Hood said, “Not through his profession or through his conversations, but through his actions and priorities, through his daily life. Scott Patrick Deem was dedicated to this department and to the citizens he protected.”
Chief Hood addressed his shaken firefighters and Deem’s pregnant wife and two children as he thanked Deem for his commitment to a job that often forces men and women to risk it all.
“In the end it was Scott who made the ultimate sacrifice of a firefighter holding fast to his pledge to fight for the lives and the safety of others in the face of danger, ahead of his own (life),” Hood said.
In a ceremony steeped with tradition those officiating rang a fire bell and sounded a final alarm.
Then Chief Hood fought back tears as the department retired Badge 3239.
The fire department radio channel crackled with the announcement: “This is the final alarm for firefighter Scott Patrick Deem.”
The investigation into what caused the fatal blaze and procedures for battling it continues. But Friday it was all about their lost brother, the first San Antonio fireman to lose his life in the line of duty since 1997.
The four-alarm fire that took deems life injured two other firefighters. Brad Phipps suffered serious burns and remains at San Antonio Military Medical Center in critical but stable condition.