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Honor guard receives assistance

Brian Kyle, West Bloomfield firefighter, Tanya Heinig, West Bloomfield firefighter, Chief Jay Wiseman, Roy Langolf, Coats Village Funeral Home-Ortonville, Tim Torok, West Bloomfield firefighter, and Robert Bryant, West Bloomfield firefighter. The group gathered at Coats Funeral Home in Waterford last week for the donation of a casket. Photo by April Haase. (click for larger version)
March 28, 2012 - Area fire departments require continuous training and preparation for a variety of emergency responses. However, one area fire department is now prepared to assist in honoring those fallen comrades.

Sgt. Bob Bryant, a 19-year West Bloomfield Fire Department veteran and Atlas Township resident, is one of several firefighters that helped establish an honor guard that is prepared for the burial cermony.

"There's protocol and guidelines to deal with the aftermath of incidents that may include the loss of a firefighter's life. Being prepared to deal with that type of incident locally is one of the responsibilities of the West Bloomfield Fire Department's Honor Guard," he said.

The honor guard is a trained group of firefighters who represent the township and its fire department at formal functions such as dedications, memorial events and funerals. To ensure they are properly prepared to manage such activities and events, the group of about 12 West Bloomfield Fire Department continually train and drill to ensure their readiness.

The volunteer honor guard is sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1721, added Bryant.

"The honor guard is available to all the fire departments in the area including Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties," he said. "We have the ability to be mobile—to do what we can to pay respect to those that have served the communities. Our services can range from advice for the funeral regarding procedure to a complete ceremony."

Just like regular fire training activities, the honor guard uses special equipment during their drills.

To help with this special training the Genesis Casket Company of Indianapolis, along with Coats Funeral Home of Waterford, recently donated an actual casket which will be used for training local honor guard to be better prepared for funeral activities. The West Bloomfield Fire Department Honor Guard hopes to share it, along with related training, with other local police and fire department honor guard groups.

Roy Langolf, owner and manager of Coats Village Funeral Home, 135 South St., Ortonville attended the gathering on Wednesday in Waterford when the casket was delivered.

"It's an honor to help get this project going," he said. "Each day the men and women who serve on fire and police departments put their lives on the line for our safety. The honor guard will be a great way for us to show our respect."

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