Firefighter funeral protocol

Updated March 23, 2017

Firefighters stand among the most highly regarded public servants in our society today. The firefighter community operates very much like a family and when one of their own dies in the line of duty, a proper funeral protocol must be observed.


After confirmation of a death, the department chief informs union officials and the fire brigade chaplain. Union and department officials are then dispatched to notify next of kin.


A union member is assigned to liaise with the family as to the type of funeral requested, most importantly if it is to be a departmental funeral with full honours. Select honour guard members and request assistance from police to provide security and a marked car at the deceased's house.

Before the Service

Post honour guard and colours outside the church. Participants line up outside the church with the family entering first. The order for all other participants starts with the fire chief, followed by union president and officials, department officers and fire brigade members.

After the Service

Pallbearers proceed out of the church followed by family members. The body is saluted as it is placed in the hearse. Firefighting personnel march ahead of the procession to a pass-in-review position.

At the Cemetery

A bugler can be arranged to play "Taps" and a bagpiper may be arranged to play "Amazing Grace."

Bell Ceremony and Prayer

The bell ceremony and Firefighter's Prayer are two important firefighter traditions aimed at showing respect to those who gave their life in the line of duty. Three rings of the bell three times signals the end of the emergency and return to quarters.

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About the Author

Philippe Lanctot started writing for business trade publications in 1990. He has contributed copy for the "Canadian Insurance Journal" and has been the co-author of text for life insurance company marketing guides. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Montreal with a minor in English.