WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a day of sadness in the rural Hampden County town of Montgomery.
The bells tolled as the bagpipers played, surrounded by so much love, but filled with so much sadness.
The firefighter brotherhood stood at attention as the casket of Montgomery Fire Chief Stephen Frye was taken inside the Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield.
“I’ve been a member of the fire service for 41 years and I can’t recall a line of duty fire chief’s death,” Palmer Fire Chief Alan Roy said.
Firefighters told 22News their work is more than a profession…it’s a passion for helping people, and a brotherhood.
“We’re definitely all one team. It doesn’t matter the size of the town,” Southwick Fire Chief Russ Anderson said. “Whether it’s a fire or others issues where we can help each other to do better, that’s what we do.”
The final services for Chief Frye were a sobering reminder of the dangers firefighters face each day in the line of duty.
“The bells rings and you go and do your job and help your neighbors and try and do the best job that you can,” Roy said. “But there are always risks. Always.”
Chief Frye was given a heroes sendoff.
After the church service — a procession into his hometown of Montgomery. Chief Stephen Frye was a local hero in the small community.
Outside the fire department is a sign with his name and his last arm. The fire department itself is draped in bunting and a large American Flag hangs across the road. Chief Frye leaves behind a wife and two children.
One of his children is a volunteer firefighter himself. He was fighting the flames alongside his dad when he collapsed.
It left this close knit community shocked.
“It’s a somber day,” Alfred Bennett, of Montgomery, said. “To think that a fire chief lost his life fighting a fire. It’s just a sad day.”
Chief Stephen Frye was 59 years old. It’s not clear exactly how he died or what caused the fire on Southampton Road.