Guard of honour for fallen firey’s funeral
An honour guard of NSW Rural Fire Service members, heartbroken family and Prime Minister Scott Morrison came together to farewell fallen volunteer firefighter Geoffrey Keaton at a funeral in Sydney's west.
Mr Keaton, 32, and fellow firey Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, were killed when a burnt 'widow maker' gum tree fell and crushed the cab of their fire truck, killing them instantly, on December 19.
The two mates, both young fathers, were driving in their truck near the Green Wattle Creek blaze at Buxton, south west of Sydney, when the accident claimed their lives.
A parade of tankers and RFS vehicles including some from the Horsley Park Brigade, where Mr Keaton served as deputy-captain, flanked the black hearse carrying his casket into Pinegrove Memorial Park on Thursday morning.
His family and friends, along with the Prime Minister, gathered under smoky skies for the service almost two weeks after the nation was thrown into mourning for the two men.
"It was important to be able to honour his great sacrifice and his tremendous service," Mr Morrison said after the service.
"Sadly we'll be attending two more of these services in the not too distant future."
RFS members, clad in yellow uniforms, formed an honour guard for Mr Keaton outside the chapel before the service.
"It was also tremendous to be there with the men and women of the Horsley Park RFS brigade as they proved the guard of honour for their mate," Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister extended the deepest sympathies of the nation to the families of Mr Keaton, Mr O'Dwyer and a third volunteer firefighter, Samuel McPaul, who was killed on Monday night outside Albury.
Mr McPaul, 28, was working to protect farmland when a fire tornado lifted his eight-tonne tanker and dropped it on top of him and another crew member.
His fellow crewmen was left with serious burns, the driver of the truck was also injured, but Mr McPaul could not be saved.
The RFS has established fundraisers for the three families.