Dewey Fire Chief Brian Lepper (center) surrounded by firefighters from Park Ridge and Dewey during a bell ceremony for the late David Reynolds on Jan. 28; inset, a table at the ceremony adorned with Reynolds memorabilia. (Metro Wire photo)

Mourners gather to honor firefighting friend

By Brandi Makuski

Nearly 70 people gathered on Saturday to honor the memory of a local firefighter and friend.

David Dean Reynolds was 56 years old when he died on Dec. 18, 2022. The longtime Stevens Point resident was also a longtime firefighter in the village of Park Ridge, serving the community from 2009 until the PRFD was essentially shuttered, also in 2022.

The Jan. 28 Celebration of Life service was held at The Rose House, 1140 Clark St. Dewey Fire Chief Brian Lepper, who was previously the chief for PRFD and worked closely with Reynolds, hosted a final bell ceremony, surrounded by firefighters who also worked with Reynolds.

After ringing the bell, Reynolds’ friends and family, and firefighting colleagues, shared stories about Reynolds. He was characterized as an intentional man with a great sense of humor and a big heart who “always did whatever he said he was going to do.”

Prior to the conveniences of modern technology, as firefighters began their shifts, it was the bell that signaled the beginning of a shift—and throughout each shift, each alarm was sounded by a bell. Bells were eventually placed on the front of a firefighting apparatus, used to warn the public that the large vehicle was responding to an emergency call.

Today, the bells have been replaced by an electronic paging system, but the ringing of the bell remains a ceremonial act to mark the death, or “final call,” of a firefighter. Each fall, a final alarm ceremony is held at the Wisconsin Fire & EMS Memorial in Wisconsin Rapids for all Wisconsin firefighters who died throughout the year.

Prior to ringing the bell, Lepper read a brief history of the bell’s significance in the fire service, as well as the weight of Reynolds’ passing.

“This is his last alarm. He has gone home,” Lepper said.