MUSCATINE — Fire service can't shutdown, even when one of their own is killed in the line of duty. That's when regional communities step up.
As the Clinton Fire Department was preparing last week to honor the life of firefighter Lt. Eric Hosette, Muscatine Fire Chief Jerry Ewers and personnel, along with six other fire departments and two ambulance services, were stationed in the city to assist in emergency response. Hosette was killed Jan. 5 responding to a fire at the ADM facility in Clinton. Public and private funeral services for the 33-year-old were held Saturday in Clinton.
"When you work 24-hour shifts, you don't have time off," Ewers said.
Ewers spent Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week in Clinton, helping coordinate coverage of emergency services.
"I'm just here to support the Clinton Fire Department and the fire chief, he said, "and to help provide coverage in the city so all staff could partake in the services."
Covering shifts was a group effort, he said, that gave firefighters and other service people time to grieve the loss of Hosette.
Muscatine's Battalion Chiefs Gary Ronzheimer and Darrell Janssen served as incident commanders over the weekend with Battalion Chief Ted Hillard, Lt. Jon Wieland and Firefighter Trevor Levins staffing an aerial fire truck. Four additional staff members covered 12-hours Saturday at Clinton's three fire stations.
Ewers said Medic Emergency Medical Services and Genesis Ambulance Services out of Davenport covered EMS calls with Davenport, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Moline and Iowa City fire departments staffing the stations through Sunday morning. Fire service from Bettendorf and Hiawatha supported the Camanche Fire Department to allow staff to attend services.
There were "multiple facets of assistance," Ewers said. Fire service members not only covered shifts, they also helped lay Hosette to rest. Members were also assisting the family of Adam Cain at University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City. Cain was injured in the explosion that killed Hosette. Muscatine Fire also participated in the honor guard that led the procession during the funeral.
It was a group effort, Ewers said of the different departments. Support for the fire department came from others, as well.
"The community support has been awesome," he said. People have been sending donations, bringing food to the stations and turning on red lights at their homes in honor of Hosette and the fire service. The flag outside the Muscatine Fire Department has been flying half-staff with red lights shining on the Muscatine Fire Memorial. Gov. Kim Reynolds also ordered state flags to fly half-staff in honor of Hosette.
Clinton Fire Department staff resumed full coverage Sunday. Ewers said helping out fellow firefighters and honoring one who has fallen is what the fire departments needed to do.
"That's what we're here for," Ewers said. "We're here to help and support each other."