Bryan firefighters remembered in memorial service

February 20, 2013 5:50:40 PM PST
Thousands of people made their way to Central Baptist Church in College Station Wednesday to pay tribute to two fallen firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Bryan Fire Department Lieutenants Eric Wallace and Gregory Pickard died last weekend while fighting a fire.

"Each of those men had such an impact on every one of our folks sitting out here today," Bryan Fire Department Chief Randy McGregor said during the memorial service. "I know we will carry on their legacies and everything they brought to us."

The room was silent as the fallen firefighters' families walked into the 3,500-seat church, escorted by law enforcement officials.

Lt. Wallace, 36, leaves behind a wife and five children, including a premature infant daughter. Lt. Pickard, 54, is survived by a wife, two children, and grandchildren.

Wednesday's memorial was a celebration of life. The two men were close friends, both known for their sense of humor.

The audience was packed with friends, family members and fellow firefighters and emergency responders from across the state. Many there never even knew the two men, but feel a special bond with them.

"It really doesn't matter whether you know them or not," said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Richard Mann. "You know what they do. You know what they're like. As they said in the service, we're kind of a unique breed."

"This is a difficult thing to say, but my husband is in the fire department and for the grace of God, I could have been sitting in the front row with the family members," said Susan Bouse, who was in attendance Wednesday. "And I know when my husband passes away, all this support is going to be shown for him, too."

Two firefighters were also injured in the February 15 blaze. They watched the memorial live from their hospital beds. Ricky Mantey, 30, and 21-year-old Mitch Moran remain in serious condition at UTMB in Galveston, but they are improving.

During a press conference Tuesday, McGregor said he had been at the hospital and that Mantey and Moran were able to walk, talk and hug their families.

As for the fire itself, investigators have determined it was accidental. They say the fire was caused by the failure of an electrical cord in the kitchen of the Knights of Columbus Hall. The investigation is not over, however. A final report from the state fire marshal's office isn't expected for probably another six months.

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