TAVARES —The fire service honor guard has a long standing tradition of preserving the legacy of its fallen, but on occasion, the team’s job is a bit more lighthearted. On Monday, Dec. 28, four members of the Lake County Fire Rescue Honor Guard will present the colors during the Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans game at the Amway Center.
“We are excited about it,” Lake County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Croughwell, founding member of the Honor Guard. “We can’t wait.”
The Honor Guard’s first official event was the county’s Sept. 11 anniversary memorial at Hickory Point in 2002. Also that year, the group traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Lake County in a ceremony at the nation’s capital. And one decade after the Twin Towers fell, claiming the lives of 343 of their brothers, the Honor Guard also presented the colors for the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks at the Lake County Administration Building rotunda, honoring a relic of the World Trade Center. The piece of steel is now prominently displayed at the Public Safety Department’s headquarters.
Asked why he helped form the team in 2001, Croughwell said there was a need for Fire Rescue to pull together a formal Honor Guard for ceremonies, funerals and memorial services.
“It represents the camaraderie of the fire department,” said Croughwell. “The military and police have honor guards, and we are representing our own.”
The group is often requested for civic and church events, as well as casket guard for members of FDNY who retired, moved to Florida and passed away here. Earlier this year, the Honor Guard had the somber task of providing funeral honors for the late Lake County Assistant Fire Chief Jack Fillman.
With 12 members, both male and female, including two pipe-players, all firefighters are welcome in the Honor Guard, however it’s no easy task to make the team. Probationary members must attend monthly meetings and train for at least six months before getting their full uniform. Past military service is a plus.
For more official information about Lake County Fire Rescue, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/firerescue, www.facebook.com/LakeCountyFireRescue or www.twitter.com/lakefirePIO.