MISSION OF THE HONOR GUARD
It is the mission of the Ventura County Fire Department Honor Guard to represent the department as a highly disciplined team serving with honor at ceremonial functions. The Guard functions with respect and dignity at funeral services for active and retired personnel as needed, and provide comfort and compassion for the survivors. The Honor Guard projects a positive image of the Department and its members by performing as a well trained professional team at local, state, and national events as well. The VCFD Honor Guard is dedicated to honoring fallen firefighters, their families, and department members, past and present.
Activity: The Honor Guard participates in several types of events. The team performs colors details at civic occasions, such as public parades and special community events as requested. They also perform colors details at many department events such as dedications, graduations, promotional and awards ceremonies. The Honor Guard plans, organizes, and performs at funeral and memorial services for department members. The team also assists other agencies with funeral and memorial services when requested. Members of the Honor Guard have participated in state and national events, such as the California Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento and the International Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs.
Equipment: The Honor Guard uses various types of equipment in the performance of its duties. Chromed axes and pike poles are used as ceremonial guard weapons. The Guard also cares for and utilizes the flags of our country, state, department and IAFF Local during various events.
Bagpiper: The history of bagpipers in the fire service is related to their historic role during wars fought in what is now known as the United Kingdom. Descending directly from Scottish regiments in England’s military, the bagpipes, has a penetrating shrill that can be heard for miles. The men who played the pipes began to migrate to America and took jobs as firefighters since nobody else was willing to take on such a dangerous job. When a firefighter died, it was parallel to the death of a warrior in battle. The pipes are played at funerals of fallen firefighters and may be accompanied by a core of drummers. Those who know little or nothing about the instrument’s history are nevertheless stirred and overwhelmed with the sweet sound it emanates; those who are well informed of its roots are touched even more. This addition to the Department’s Honor Guard honors our fallen as they should be…just as they were 800 years ago.
Bell Ceremony: Fallen Firefighters Final Farewell
The men and women of today’s fire service are confronted with a more dangerous work environment than ever before.
We are forced to continually change our strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks.
Our methods may change, but our goals remain the same as they were in the past, to save lives and to protect property, sometimes at a terrible cost.
This is what we do, this is our chosen profession, and this is the tradition of the firefighter.
The fire service of today is ever changing, but is steeped in traditions 200 years old.
One such tradition is the sound of a bell.
In the past, as fire fighters began their tour of duty, it was the bell that signaled the beginning of that day’s shift.
Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizen. And when the fire was out and the alarm had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of that call.
When a firefighter had died in the line of duty, paying the supreme sacrifice, it was the mournful toll of the bell that solemnly announced a comrades passing.
We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much and who have served so well. To symbolize the devotion that these brave souls had for their duty, a special signal of three rings, three times each, represents the end of our comrades’ duties and that they will be returning to quarters.
And so, to those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well done, to our comrades, their last alarm, they are going home.
When I am called to duty, God
Wherever flames may rage
Give me strength to save a life
Whatever be its age.
Let me embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
To give the best in me,
To guard my friend and neighbor
And protect their property.
And, if, according to your will,
While on duty I must answer death’s call;
Bless with your protecting hand
My family, one and all.