If a man’s greatness can be measured by the size of his funeral, former Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr was a great man indeed.
Hundreds of uniformed firefighters from Charleston and around the country paid their respects Monday at historic St. Michael’s Church in downtown Charleston.
Scores of fire trucks, police cars and other emergency vehicles filled Broad Street for a block in each direction. Police blocked off streets around the church for about two hours for the funeral and massive procession to the cemetery.
Carr was chief in Charleston from November 2008 until he retired in March 2012. He died Wednesday night at 59 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
During the funeral service, Carr was remembered as a hero and a man who watched out for those under his care.
“Like Superman, he lived life constantly going into dangerous places while others wanted to run out,” said the Rev. Al Zadig, St. Michael’s pastor.
Fading from his illness, Carr spent the last of his energy building up the department. He is credited for bringing sweeping changes to the Charleston fire department after nine men died battling a blaze in a sofa store.
“(Like Jesus), Tom Carr gave his own life for his flock,” Zadig said.
The procession from the church to Magnolia Cemetery sent a message throughout the downtown tourist district that an important man had died. About a dozen police motorcycles with flashing blue lights were followed by several dozen fire trucks with flashing red lights and more police vehicles. Near the cemetery, the procession passed under a huge American flag draped between two ladder trucks.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.