(KUTV) — An emotional Draper fire chief delivered his first public words late Friday afternoon on the death of Battalion Chief Matt Burchett, killed while fighting a wildfire in California.
Chief Clint Smith called Burchett a professional colleague and friend, saying his passing is “the most difficult challenge” of his career.
Smith had been out of town when Burchett perished. The body of the fallen firefighter was flown back to Utah earlier this week.
Local firefighters have kept watch over the body around the clock at a local funeral home, as well as responding to calls, and preparing for Burchett’s funeral.
“They have actually stepped up their game,” said Smith. “They really are handling themselves in such a proud fashion, because they want to represent what Matt meant to us.“
Chief Smith was brought to tears when 2News asked about his pride for the way firefighters have responded.
“I don’t think I could adequately express that,” he said.
Burchett’s funeral will be at the Maverik Center, Monday morning at 11. Smith said he and two others in the department have been asked to speak at the service.
The chief said firefighters’ priority now is to support Burchett’s family, but the ceremony will include touching tributes.
“We will have the ringing of the bell,” he said. “We will have the last call, and some of those things are reserved very specifically for a line of duty death.”
2News will carry the funeral live on Monday on Channel 2, and on kutv.com.