DES MOINES, Iowa -- Fire crews from as close by as Urbandale, and as far away as Omaha took part in the ceremony to put Engineer Douglas McCauley to rest.
The 29-year veteran of the Des Moines Fire Department passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest last week while on duty.
As a train of fire engines, police cars and other vehicles slowly made their way around the metro, onlookers gathered to show their support for McCauley and the Des Moines Fire Department.
“They're good people and they serve us well” said Fred Walker.
Walker came to pay his respects for a very personal reason, even though he may not have known McCauley personally.
“They helped me two different times. I had two serious injuries at my home, and they rushed me to the emergency room with fire rescue, and if wouldn't have been to them I potentially could have bled to death” said Walker. “They were just great people when the fire rescue came out to help me and I'll just be eternally grateful” he said.
Meanwhile towards the end of the procession route, a lone American flag hung from a makeshift flagpole along Army Post Road.
That flag belongs to Linda and Russ Francisco, who also have a personal reason to honor a fallen first responder.
“Our boy is a Des Moines firefighter, and for 20-some odd years he fought fires, so we know what they go through” said Linda and Russ.
The Francisco’s say the procession was emotional, and reminds them of how fragile life is.
“I just don't want have to go through it with my son. It's a very moving tribute to all these people from different stations, different places in Iowa” said Linda.
They say it's also a reminder of just how many firefighters and first responders work across the state.
“You kind of forget about all the people that are in small towns that are fighting these fires, but they are a godsend to everybody” said Linda.
Those who worked with him say McCauley responded to over 15,000 calls during the course of his career.