Firefighters will gather together today (Thursday, Oct. 10) to pay their respects to CAL FIRE Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit (MMU) Fire Captain Paul Rotondaro, who passed away on October 2nd, 2019 in Gustine, California.
Captain Rotondaro started his career with CAL FIRE in 2006 as a Fire Fighter I in MMU, and worked through the ranks to Fire Captain. He will be greatly missed throughout the CAL FIRE family.
Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home
1490 B Street Merced, CA 95340
Date: Wednesday October 9th, 2019
Time: 6:00 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
671 E. Yosemite Avenue
Merced, CA 95340
Date: Thursday October 10th, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
*Note: Some online maps show the church location in the downtown area, which is incorrect. The correct location is at the corner of E. Yosemite Avenue and Mansionette Drive. Searching for “St. Patrick’s Parish Hall” should take you to the correct location.
Memorial Service – St Patrick’s Catholic Church Sequence of Events
October 10th, 2019
- 9:15 a.m. – Arrival of Family for Walking Procession
- 9:25 a.m. – Flag-Folding Ceremony [Outside]
- 9:35 a.m. – Family in Family Room
- 9:55 a.m. – Family Escorted to Church Entrance
- 10:00 a.m. – Honor Guard Posting of Colors
- 10:10 a.m. – Opening Prayer – Rev. Fluestch
- 11:45 a.m. – Closing Prayer / Fire Department Honors
What We Do And Why
An honor guard member (or ceremonial guard) is a ceremonial escort, often military in nature. They are usually comprised of volunteers who are carefully screened for their ability and physical dexterity. Only those persons, who are highly motivated, maintain exceptionally high standards of appearance, and conduct and show aptitude for ceremonial duty are considered. The primary purpose of an honor guard is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades.
An honor guard may also serve as the “guardians of the colors”. They present a nation’s colors for various ceremonies and official state functions. Additionally, honor guards serve as ambassadors to the public, presenting a positive image of their service, and assisting with the recruiting effort.
As a part of the funeral service, the Chief may present the badge and name tag worn by the deceased to the next of kin. Usually the items will be presented in a framed display also containing a department uniform patch.
If the casket is draped with a flag, an appropriate flag presentation ceremony should be conducted at the conclusion of the cemetery service. If the casket is draped with a flag that will be presented to the next of kin, at least three pallbearers should be involved in folding and presenting the flag to the next of kin.
The ringing of the bell and the reading of the firefighter’s prayer are two traditions of the fire service which reflect respect and honor to those who gave their lives to their duty. The ringing of the bell represents the end of the emergency and the return to quarters and is usually three rings three times.
Bag Pipes and drums are used in conjunction with the Honor Guard to play certain ceremonial arrangements during the funeral ceremonies.
A pallbearer is one of several funeral participants who help carry the casket of the deceased person into the religious or memorial service and when service is over directly to a cemetery or mausoleum. The pallbearers are usually fire department personnel but there also can be a contingent of family members that are honor pallbearers that will walk behind the casket. The total number of pallbearers is usually eight. Pallbearers should wear Class A uniforms with hats and white gloves.
The Honor Guard will provide continual coverage to any firefighter involved in a Line of Duty Death. An Honor Guard member will never leave the side of their fallen comrade until they have been finally laid to rest.
The Firefighters Last Alarm
The men and women of today’s fire service are confronted with a more dangerous work environment than ever before. We are forced to continually change our strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks.
Our methods may have changed, but our goals remain the same as they were in the past: to save lives and to protect property. Sometimes this is done at a terrible cost. However, this is what we do. This is our chosen profession; this is the tradition of the firefighter.
The fire service of today is ever changing but is steeped in traditions over 200 years old. One such tradition is the sounding of a bell. In the past, as firefighters began their tour of duty, it was the bell that signaled the beginning of the day’s shift. Through the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizens.
When the fire was out and all the tasks had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all, the completion of that alarm.
When a firefighter died in the line of duty, paying the supreme sacrifice, it was the mournful toll of the bell that tearfully announced… the passing of a fellow firefighter.
We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect for those who have given so much, and who have served…so well.
To symbolize the devotion that these brave souls had for their duty…a special signal of 3 rings, 3 times… represents the end of the firefighter’s duties, and that they will be returning to quarters.
Finally, to our brothers and sisters who have devotedly given their lives for the good of his fellow citizens, their task completed, their duties well done, to their last alarm…they are going home.
Please remember that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church is private property. Cameras may not be brought into the church or foyer, but cameras are permitted in outdoor areas of the compound.
The service will be live streamed online at:
Cards and gifts can be sent to:
CAL FIRE – Mariposa HQ
C/O Jaime Williams
5366 Highway 49 North
Mariposa, CA 95338