It was a celebration of life as the community came together to lay their fallen brother to rest.
Jade Leah Burns joined them in North East from Gravel Pit Park where crews said volunteers have been out since 6 a.m. preparing for this day of remembrance.
“On a daily basis the most dangerous thing we do is standing by the side of the road attempting to interact with the public in vehicles,” said Greg Purchase, captain of the City of Erie Fire Department.
Shawn Giles’ wife received the phone call that she said forever changed not only her life, but the lives of hundreds of people.
Community members and first responders from as far as Jefferson County have come to honor their faller brother.
“You hear this kind of news and it puts the breaks on everything. Everything comes to a halt and you really have to reevaluate everything,” said John Netzlof, fire police lieutenant for Pine Creek Township.
Giles, who is a veteran and late member of Fuller Hose Company, was struck and killed by a car Sunday afternoon while directing traffic on a call.
The ceremony included a short Catholic service, full military honor and a fire department service.
This loss hits the town hard as Giles is a North East native and described as a soft-spoken gentle giant.
“The sadness of the event knowing that we lose one of our own again … However there’s also some positive feelings that I received by being able to be here together,” Purchase said.
With all the events that have happened in the last week, Fuller Hose is out of service Friday. Other fire companies from across the region have stepped up to allow those who knew him best pay to their respects.
Don Erbin Jr., Fire Chief of Kuhl Hose Company explained, “This what the fire service does. It doesn’t matter where it happens. You know there was just the fires in Hawaii. You can go to any fire station anywhere in the world and say you are a firefighter and you are automatically in, it’s what the brotherhood is about.”
Shawn’s wife released a statement that said:
“On Sunday, August 20, 2023, at 1 p.m., I received a phone call that forever changed not only my life but also the lives of literally hundreds of people.
Shawn was my husband, but before that he was a son, a brother, an uncle, a godfather, a cousin, and a friend to all who knew him. He was an amazing stepfather to my two children. Shawn was a volunteer firefighter; he was always there to provide help whenever it was needed, without question, or any hesitation. That is what happened on Sunday afternoon; he was needed – so he went.
But this time he didn’t come home.
Shawn’s death has left a huge hole in the hearts of everyone who knew him. The amount of love, support, phone calls, cards, food, and kindness extended to all of us has been so overwhelming.
We can never thank you enough. I promise that I will do everything in my power to ensure that this senseless tragedy doesn’t happen to someone else.”
With that being said, the feelings were mixed Friday but also show hope and aspiration for what’s coming next.