FORT PIERCE — Hundreds of firefighters and other public safety officials from across Florida gathered Friday for a full honors funeral ceremony to lay to rest Lt. Mark Morrison, a 25-year veteran of the St. Lucie County Fire District who died Sunday while on duty at a Port St. Lucie fire station.
The funeral service for Morrison, 53, took place at Westside Baptist Church. It was the destination for a long procession of firetrucks, police vehicles and musicians that formed the ceremony. Morrison's flag-draped casket arrived aboard a fire engine draped in black bunting. Twelve firefighters in full-dress uniforms flanked it, standing at attention in back.
"I wanted those gathered here today in his honor to know that we, his firefighting brothers, sisters and comrades, knew him as more than a dedicated professional," Fire Chief Ron Parrish said. "We want you to know that we knew him, and genuinely loved him, as this warm, gentle giant."
Others also said Morrison was a large man in both spirit and physique.
"He had some weight on him, but weight is power," said retired Battalion Chief Arthur Crouse. "He could drag a 2 1/2-inch hose around where three skinny guys couldn't."
Officially, Morrison died in the line of duty, although he was not responding to a fire call at the time. Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Chaney said the medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of his death, but that it appeared to be medical in nature.
Morrison is survived by his wife, Susan, an Okeechobee County sheriff's detective, and two adult daughters. Shortly after the family entered the church Friday morning, what had been occasional light showers turned into a heavy rain.
Crouse noted that it also rained at the fire district's last funeral, for Engineer Charlie Yarborough.
"I think God sheds tears whenever a firefighter dies," Crouse said.
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