Outpouring of Support for Firefighters - WSET.com - ABC13

Outpouring of Support for Firefighters

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Reporters: David Tate and Donna Harris

Rocky Mount, VA - It was an emotional day in Rocky Mount, as hundreds gathered to remember two firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Chief Posey Dillon's funeral was Friday morning. And in the afternoon, former Chief Danny Altice was also laid to rest.

David Tate went to Chief Dillon's funeral. It was almost exclusively Dillon's immediate family and his other family, the first responders, which defined much of who Posey Dillon was.

As a line of emergency vehicles followed, Posey Dillon took his last trip in a fire truck.

"This shows you how many people care about him," said Phil Poff.

Wanting to pay tribute, without being at the funeral itself, Poff was joined by dozens along the route wanting to say goodbye.

"You're not going to find anyone that will say a bad word about Posey. He is what Rocky Mount is about," Poff said.

Much of the community said goodbye at his visitation. Friday's funeral seemed mostly for his two families.

One family that has pledged support to the other family.

"Ann, I say, stay strong. You'll always have us in your prayers. We will never forget our chief and I don't think there's anyone who can step in Posey Dillon's boots," said Richard Gore, of the Rocky Mount Fire Department.

Mayor Steve Angle/Rocky Mount - "He devoted over 30 years to the organization, making it a top notch department," said Rocky Mount Mayor Steve Angle. "The 15th Chapter of John tells us, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends. On behalf of a grateful community, we say thank you and well done to our faithful servant."

"It makes you sad that someone like him is gone. Because the people here truly love him and respect him a lot," Poff said.

Most of those asked to speak at Posey's funeral spoke about his service and volunteerism, all but challenging people to use Dillon as an inspiration for getting out and working to make their community better through service.

Flanked by flowers, family and fellow comrades from as far away as South Carolina, services for veteran Rocky Mount fireman Danny Altice were also held Friday.

Inside the United Methodist Church where the 68 year old was a member, seats were filled to capacity.

A family friend describes Friday and Altice's sudden death as a tragedy beyond proportion.  It will be a long time before this community comes to grips with losing two real-life heroes.

People began entering United Methodist Church at about 2:00 p.m. to say goodbye to Altice, who also served as fire chief here for 14 years.

Firefighting was his life and love.

He's remembered as a person with a sense of humor, a humbled man and a tireless public servant.

"If Danny was here today, Danny would be back on that truck. And we got to keep on, we got to be strong for him. He don't want us to be disappointed. He don't want us to be sad. He wants the Franklin County Fire Department to keep going on," said Richard Gore, Chaplain for the Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Department.

"He just was always ready to give for the fire department and help people out, and his family; great people and this is a strong community so, I feel bad for all of them," said family friend Robbie Halsey.

Many residents here did not attend the services Friday in order to allow others from out of town to pay tribute.

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