The most solemn duty of the Honor Guard is to stand by at visitations and funerals as a show of respect for a fallen firefighter or police officer. The Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard attends these services at the request of family or friends of the deceased, and receives many requests to stand by after the passing of firefighter retirees. Members of the Honor Guard volunteer their time and are often called upon to attend an event with short notice. The Honor Guard currently is funded by Local 21 as well as donations from various donors and retirees.
History of the SPFD Honor Guard
The Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard originated in 1997, when we saw the Minneapolis Honor Guard in attendance at a ceremony for a Minneapolis firefighter killed in the line-of-duty. Members of Local 21 and the Fire Supervisor's Associations (FSA 3939), with the support of Fire Administration, began to discuss the idea of a SPFD honor guard. Fire Captain Paramedic Larry Christopherson took the lead in establishing Saint Paul Fire's Honor Guard, with the initial help from Minneapolis firefighter Ray Cruise. Captain Christopherson gained additional information from a trade show in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Upon his return from Indianapolis, Larry gathered a group of people interested in participating in the honor guard and sought someone with a military background to train them. Fire Captain Greg Munson was a perfect fit for the job since he had been part of a color guard in the service. They practiced many hours in a church basement until everyone could perform all the required drills in unison. Our original Honor Guard had 15 members, and their first appearance was well received at the 1999 Local 21 Installation Ceremony. The drilling continued - and in 2000, the Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard took 3rd place at the FDIC National Fire Department Honor Guard Competition. Encouraged by this rely success, they continued to practice and took the gold medal for 1st place in the Honor Guard Competition at the 9th biennial World Police and Fire Games on 6/15/2001 in Indianapolis, IN. The six honor guard members awarded gold medals (Greg Munson, Mike Allyn, Bill Lee, Dave Fleming, Mark Slaikeu, and Dave Shepherd) received state Certificates of Commendation at a Saint Paul City Council meeting the following month. A proclamation from then Governor Jesse Ventura was read into the Council minutes, proclaiming Wednesday, July 11, 2001 as Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard Day in the State of Minnesota. The Honor Guard followed up this accomplishment with another 1st place finish at the FDIC national Competition a year later. At a ceremony in June, then Mayor Randy Kelly proclaimed Saturday, June 1, 2002 to be Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard Day.
In 2010 The SPFD Honor Guard joined honor guards from all over the country to represent Saint Paul Fire at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, MD. Honor Guard members Fire Captain Paramedic Keith Golden and Firefighter Paramedic Ben Schenck attended the IAFF Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service in Colorado Springs, CO. on 9/11/2010 for fallen firefighter Ray Hain.
In 2011, Fire Captain Paramedic Bob Kipples and Firefighter Ben Schenck attended the IAFF Fallen Firefighter memorial in Colorado Springs, CO.
The Saint Paul Fire Honor Guard attends: MPFF meetings, political rallies, State of the City addresses, Minneosta Twins and Saint Paul Saints baseball games, parades, Blue Masses, Local 21 Instillation parties, fire station dedications, 9/11 ceremonies, among other events. The Honor Guard is referred to as the Color Guard whenever they are called on to carry the flags and axes.