DIXFIELD, Maine — A thin red line of courage, displayed on firefighter badges to honor a fallen comrade, surrounded the community Friday morning.
Solemnly marching alongside a Dixfield Fire Co. ladder truck, Chief Scott Dennett and Deputy Chief Chris Moretto escorted Danielle Ranger’s remains up Weld Street as part of her funeral procession.
About 50 local fire, EMS and police departments participated in the march from the Dixfield Fire Station on Main Street to the Dirigo High School gymnasium. A LifeFlight of Maine helicopter hovered above the high school until the ladder truck reached its destination.
Ranger, 16, was a junior at Dirigo High School. She died Sunday from injuries sustained in a car crash Oct. 15 in Peru. She served as a junior firefighter for the Dixfield Fire Co. and was a member of the Western Foothills Junior Firefighter Program.
During the funeral service, Dennett said fire departments often are like their own small community. Remembering his junior firefighter, he said, “Dani had become one of our own.”
Superintendent Tom Ward spoke during the ceremony, saying he has struggled with finding a reason behind the loss of such a young life.
“Dani loved life and we should try to move forward and love life like she did,” Ward said.
One of the last to speak at the service was Dixfield Fire Capt. Jason Hyde, one of Ranger’s mentors and also her cousin.
He said she wanted to become a firefighter and change people’s lives.
“You wanted to be a firefighter to save and change people’s lives,” Hyde said. “I only wish you knew how you have changed mine”
Ranger’s firefighter helmet, which had been engraved and carried on the ladder truck during the procession, was presented to her mother.
Ranger was also given the high honor of a 200-year-old tradition called the tolling of the bell. The bell was rung three times, then a pause, three times, then a pause, and then a final three rings. Normally, it’s a ceremony reserved for a firefighter killed in the line of duty.
Total silence fell in the gymnasium as the bell tolled and Ranger was given the last salute from her fellow firefighters.
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