Thousands of mourners from across the state and the nation arrived at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in north Baltimore to pay respects for fallen firefighter Mark Falkenhan.
The 11 a.m. funeral was expected to attract some 3,000 people and hundreds of fire trucks and other apparatus.
The 43-year-old Lutherville volunteer firefighter from Middle River died Jan. 19 from injuries sustained while fighting a four-alarm apartment fire in Hillendale.
Diverse arrays of fire companies were represented at the funeral. Trucks from such companies as Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company in Harford County and Bay District Volunteer Fire Department in California, Md., were parked along the northbound lanes of Charles Street. The street was closed south of Northern Parkway to make room for the trucks and the funeral procession.
Several firefighters at the scene said they came to pay their respects to Falkenhan out of a sense of honor.
"It's a tradition and everyone is here to support [each other]. It's kind of an unwritten rule if you're not working – you're at a funeral," Baltimore City firefighter John Henderson said.
Ryan Dumond, a probationary firefighter with the Washington D.C. Fire and EMS Department, attended the funeral with more than a dozen other probationary firefighters from that department.
"It's all about the brotherhood. When one firefighter dies, that's a brother or a sister that you've lost. Everyone cares for each other," Dumond said. "In our profession there's that risk and there's that danger, so we all like to look after one another."
Luke Thomas, a firefighter with the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department, said the loss of a firefighter is felt throughout the community
"[It affects] not just one department but [firefighters] as a whole," Thomas said.
Brian Brendel, battalion chief for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, led a group of drummers and pipers Monday that traveled from as far as New Jersey to honor Falkenhan.
Playing pipes has been a long-standing tradition for fire companies when honoring the fallen, he said.
"It's a tradition that we pipe for the casket while it's in the open air," he said.
And so the group played when Falkenhan's casket arrived, and again when it left for its burial place at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.