Undergraduate Research Journal


The American Fire System has a rich history that has been shaped by a number of American subcultures. Traditions that were influenced by its origins on the east coast spread across the country, creating a unique community that has maintained its rituals despite influences from the various regions across the country. One such ritual that has been consistent even as the fire system changes cultural hands is the firefighter funeral. Due to the private insider nature of the firefighter community, the firefighter funeral is one of the few rituals that can be experienced by outsiders. The consistency of this ritual across the country helps to connect individuals to other firefighters in their area, but also to the larger national group identity. Due to the public nature of their work, and at times their on-duty deaths, media coverage of the death of a firefighter is not uncommon. In addition to traditional media outlets, the rise of social media allows firefighters to honor their dead in new more public ways while maintaining their old rituals. This paper documents the importance of the shared ritual and history of the firefighting community, as well as the use of honoring the dead through media outlets.



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