Volunteer firefighters stood at attention as the long funeral procession wound its way past their fire houses in rural towns of Carroll and Baltimore counties, then through halted traffic on Padonia Road, to the grave dug for Lt. John N. Plummer, who died while fighting a fire.
At the entrance to the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, the line passed between two ladder trucks, their ladders extended and touching in a pinnacle to form a flag-draped archway into the cemetery. Firefighters and police from Baltimore, surrounding counties and from Washington gathered there yesterday to bury Plummer at the Fallen Heroes Memorial.
A harsh wind caught their flags, pushing some of them temporarily out of formation. A bagpiper piped a dirge as Plummer's family filed toward the graveside. A bugler played taps.
Firefighters and police who died in the line of duty have been buried since 1977 in front of the memorial, a bronze bas relief depicting the rescue of a child from a fire. Plummer's name will become the 17th to be riveted to a memorial roster.
Plummer, who was 47, had been a firefighter since 1968. He died Sunday of a heart attack while carrying a hose into a burning row house in the 800 block of W. Lombard St.
His funeral procession started in Manchester, where his priest had to move the funeral mass from Plummer's parish, St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church, to the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church to accommodate a crowd estimated at 500 people.
In one of the three eulogies offered for Plummer, Lt. David Heavel, a comrade from the City Fire Department, remembered Plummer as an exemplary family man and as a firefighter who would advance with a hose closer to a blaze than anyone else.
"If John wouldn't go any farther, no one in their right mind would even try," Heavel said. "He never bailed out. He seldom backed out."