Thousands Bid Farewell to Pompano Beach Fireman, Bill Elliott, at a Tearful Memorial
On January 6, 2012, the Pompano Beach Fire Department lost one of their men. During a routine training exercise, William “Bill” Elliott, 49, fell from a 100ft ladder, becoming the first Pompano Beach firefighter to die in the line of duty.
The following Friday, January 12, at a very special memorial service at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, there were many tears on the faces of thousands of friends, family, and firefighters from across Florida, who gathered to mourn this great loss. Many speakers, including: Pastor Bob Coy, Fire Chief Harry Small, Chaplin Reverend Paul Walker, and close family members, praised the life of Elliott.
“This is the first time in our history that we have lost someone on the job,” said Chief Small as he approached the pulpit, struggling to keep his voice from cracking. “This death is especially traumatic for the fire department and shakes us to our very core.”
Pastor Bob opened the service saying, “If you knew Bill, you know that he would say ‘relax, take it easy.’ He’d want you to laugh as you remember his life.”
Reverend Walker gave testimony of Elliott’s fulfilled life. “He approached his life, job and friends always thinking about how he could help others. Bill was a hero in the way that he lived and in the way that he died.”
During a tearful and moving speech, Elliott’s brother, John Elliott added, “He brought joy and excitement everywhere he went; he was respected for his spirit.”
The service included traditional firefighter memorials like the last alarm and three bells. His family was presented with a flag, helmet and Metal of Valor to honor Bill’s 29 years of service.
“It was a horrible day, but an awesome ceremony,” said firefighter Ron Morales, with tears in his eyes. Morales was hired by the Pompano Beach Firehouse at the same time as Elliott. He received the news of his pal’s accident while he was out having dinner with his family.
Pastor Bob and Reverend Walker presented the Gospel to those in attendance. Walker said, “It’s my prayer that everyone would look at the frailty of life, because one day you’re going to step into the eternal.”
Although his family and friends will miss him terrribly, even his dog Dingy, who was seen walking around the pulpit after sniffing his firefigher uniform that was placed over the casket, they are confident that Elliott is in the arms of Christ, and that his legacy of hard work, compassion, bravery and sacrifice will live on.