Thousands of mourners gathered at St. Mary’s Cathedral Church on Friday to “bid farewell” to San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Vincent Perez, 48, and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53. Lieutenant Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Valerio lost their lives at a two-alarm fire in a Diamond Heights hillside home on June 2, 2011.
During the memorial, the caskets were placed beside each draped with a white cloth and their helmets on top. To symbolize the devotion that Lieutenant Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Valerio had for their duty, the memorial began with three rings of a bell three times, signaling the end of the emergency and return to quarters.
Attendees included Mayor Ed Lee, Governor Jerry Brown, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Former Mayor Gavin Newsom. San Francisco Fire Department Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White noted, "There are no words to describe the pain, anger and sorrow that we are feeling."
A four hour service was commenced with the San Francisco Fire Department Chaplain Reverand John Greene who spoke about how firefighters do almost everything together-including working, eating, sleeping, and sometimes dying together.
An estimated 5,000 firefighters from around the nation and Canada came and waited outside the church. Engines arrived with the fallen firefighter’s caskets atop them while firefighters stood at attention.
Close to 20 off-duty firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue traveled to the memorial service to pay their respects.
Many Bay Area fire departments provided services and equipment for the San Francisco fire departments so that the city’s firefighters could attend the ceremony.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
June 16, 2011