THREE FORKS, Mont. - Before Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel's funeral, a procession of emergency vehicles stretched for miles. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects.
On Three Forks' Main Street Wednesday afternoon, friends, well-wishers, and the community lined the sidewalk to honor the life long firefighter and eight year veteran of the Three Forks department.
"We all care about Chief Rummel and we want them all to be a part of caring too," said Three Forks resident Serra Bauman, who brought a youth group to watch the procession.
Before the procession, 114 vehicles lined up- fire trucks, ambulances and police cruisers.
Fellow firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement remembered a man who spent his life serving others.
"Not only the city of Three Forks, but the community of Gallatin County as well," said Gallatin County Undersheriff Dan Sprenger. "And it's important we memorialize that."
People came from dozens of different towns and fire departments to do just that. Some traveled hundreds of miles.
East Missoula firefighter Jack Pickhardt said, "When a death occurs I think we all need to band together."
A sentiment echoed by Central Valley Fire Chief Ron Lindroth. "There's not a lot that we can do for each other than support each other in difficult times," he said.
To show support, all wore black bands across their badges.
"It's a sign of respect in honoring the person who has passed away," Chief Lindroth explained.
And if there was one thing we saw Wednesday, it was the appreciation these firefighters have for each other, all taking the time to honor the fallen chief Todd Rummel.
Willow Creek firefighter Preston Hughes told us, "All these fire fighters showing up means the world to us. We're going to have a great day. It's going to be tough, but we're going to power through it."
People grieving the loss of Chief Rummel said the Chief's death has darkened the community, but they've found strength by coming together.
"We just have to remember the people who serve us and we need to acknowledge the family that has taken this loss," said Three Forks resident Ron Biggs.