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Hundreds gather for funeral of fallen Utah firefighter, remember him as a friend and hero

Posted at 6:59 AM, Aug 20, 2018

WEST VALLEY CITY -- Loved ones, fellow emergency responders and the community gathered Monday to honor the life of fallen Utah firefighter Matt Burchett.

Burchett, a Battalion Chief with Draper City Fire who died battling the Mendocino Complex Fire in California, was laid to rest Monday following a memorial service at the Maverik Center.

Following the funeral, a procession escorted Burchett to his final resting place in Provo.

Burchett's colleagues at Draper City Fire and Unified Fire Authority—where he worked for many years prior to joining Draper Fire—say they appreciate the opportunity to honor their fallen brother and pay their respects to his family.

“It’s without words, a shared sense of grief, that really only a hug will convey to each other. Just big hugs happening left and right among people who know each other well and people who don’t,” Said Matt McFarland, a spokesman with Unified fire.

"We've got one shot at this, to show the family that we very much honor and respect Battalion Chief Burchett, but also to show the nation that we're going to get this right in honoring his memory," Assistant Chief Jay Ziolkowski of the Unified Fire Authority said.

"It’s impressive to see, some of these guys who are somewhat stoic in their daily job, suddenly expressing emotions," McFarland said.

“He was a great guy to sit down with and drink coffee with in the mornings," Said Eric Holmes, another spokesman for Unified Fire. "He was really humble and told great stories and had a great back about being able to teach through his experiences and through his stories and I’m going to miss that quite a bit.”

Neighboring fire agencies volunteered to take on-call shifts Monday to allow those who were closest to Chief Burchett to attend Monday's services.

To donate to the BC Matt Burchett Family Fund, click here.