LAFD Commemorated the Life of Firefighter Allen

Friday, February 25, 2011 |

This morning the Los Angeles Fire Department honored and commemorated the life of our fallen Firefighter/Paramedic Glenn L. Allen. We would like to thank the various Fire Departments, Dignitaries, and other Public Safety Agencies throughout the Nation that attended and participated in the Memorial Procession and Service.
Firefighter Glenn L Allen's Funeral
During and after todays funeral, many asked why and where certain traditions that are presented at the funeral originated from. Here are the top eight...

Black Bands over Badges: Black arm bands have been worn as a symbol of mourning for centuries. The black band over our badge is a visible symbol of such mourning when a Firefighter has died in the line of duty.

Lowering of the Flag: The American Flag is often lowered to half-staff locally to honor the fallen Firefighter until his or her interment.

Crossed Truck Aerial Ladders: Among the most visual tributes that our Fire Department can offer, the crossed aerial ladders form a passage symbolic of crossed sabers, that allow us to proudly and prominently display the American flag, as a final farewell with honor.

Procession: The Procession of apparatus and walking Firefighters from agencies near and far demonstrate the deep bond between all Firefighters and expresses their united support for the fallen hero and the family left behind.

Bagpipes: This tradition dates back over 150 years, when the Scottish and Irish immigrated to the U.S., when bagpipes were commonly played at weddings and funerals. In the early 1800s the primary jobs Irish immigrants obtained were the most dangerous one, such as Firefighters and Police Officers. After witnessing many funerals for Irish Firefighters, most families began requesting bagpipes to be played at non-Irish Firefighter funerals.

American Flag-Draped Coffin: This custom is observed as a Firefighter proudly protects our homeland. The stars-and-stripes are ceremoniously removed from the coffin by an Honor Guard and folded with ritual during memorial services, to be subsequently presented by the Fire Chief to the family of the fallen.

Ten Bells: Bells are an integral part of a Firefighter's life, occurring in the morning, evening, and to sound an alarm at the Fire Station. At the Los Angeles Fire Department, Ten Bells signify a Firefighter 's honorable return to his/her final place of rest.

Missing Man Formation: This tradition of aircraft flying over began in 1918 when British pilots attended the funeral of the Red Baron. LAFD flies three helicopters toward the funeral site, and as they reach their destination, one helicopter peels away from the other two, representing the fallen Firefighter.

Glenn was said to be a "man's man and a firefighter's firefighter... who approached life with a true servant's heart, always seeing to it that others' needs were met before his own".

Firefighter Allen paid the ultimate sacrifice. May he rest in peace.

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Ryan said...

One other question? Where does the tradition of of the purple bands on the company of the down firefighter come from? As well as the black and purple drapes on on the down firefighters apparatus?

Anne Aruncel County Retired Firefighters said...

The members of the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Retired Firefighters send their deepest sympathy to the family of F/F Allen and to the members of the LA City Fire Dept. Even though 3000 miles separate us we feel and know your pain. F/F Allen sounds like the type of person we would have been proud to work with and know.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Ryan, great question sir.

When I asked that question, it was explained to me that the purple armbands served a more functional purpose that any deep rooted tradition…

LAFD places purple armbands on the right arms of Firefighters that are directly involved with the organization & direction of the funeral. It differentiates those firefighters from others in class “A” dress uniform's that are attending, thus allowing them access to various areas that others are not permitted.

Also the following historical information regarding the color purple, in reference to mourning, may be of interest:

In 16th century England, purple was the color for the final stage of mourning, according to Mark Twain in his first attempt at historical fiction, "The Prince and the Pauper".

Perhaps some others can comment on what they think?


Erik Scott
C-Shift Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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