Final procession, memorial service held for fallen Porterville firefighters

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- People in Porterville stopped what they were doing on Friday morning to pay their respects to two fallen firefighters.

Captain Raymond Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones died while fighting a raging fire at the city's library.

"It's wonderful how the town all came together. They've all pitched in to help. I mean, it's tragic why we had to come together, but it's a beautiful thing," said Trudy Colbert, a Porterville resident.

The procession ended at Porterville Church of the Nazarene, where hundreds of firefighters from around the country had gathered in formation.

"My heart is breaking but it's so full of pride at the same time to show what the family does. Once you're a first responder, you're a first responder everywhere in the whole world," said Debi Asher of Visalia.

Funerals have already taken place for Jones and Figueroa.

But Friday was another opportunity for friends, family, firefighters, and the public to honor and celebrate the lives that were cut too short ten days ago.

As a leader and mentor, Zach Figueroa says his brother was always willing to lend a helping hand or share his expertise.

"One friend that said the word 'lift' was an accurate word to describe him because he spent so much of his time lifting up others, as well as lifting weights. He was extremely social and lived a very extroverted life," the heartbroken brother said.

Mike Waters was Jones' high school principal in Visalia.

He reminded the audience that Jones loved his co-workers, family members, and even strangers.

"Patrick always said he wanted to be a firefighter and he was going to be a firefighter. He wanted to serve others, he wanted to be a friend to the community. He wanted to be a friend to the people he served and a friend to those he served with. So when the library was on fire and there may be people trapped inside, they weren't just people to Patrick. They were his friends," said Waters.

Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere announced two new traditions in honor of the firefighters.

Figureroa had an affinity for axes, so February 18th will be an axe maintenance day for the department.

On that same day, firefighters will be able to wear their hats backwards as Jones often did.
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