Inside San Diego

Stories about City Services, Employees, Residents and Communities

Honor Guard Goes Beyond the Line of Duty

Honor Guard Training

Racing to the scene of a fire or a medical call, there’s no time to waste.

The crew at Fire Station 17 in City Heights has to move fast, as they respond to approximately two dozen calls in a 24-hour period. This is considered one of the busiest fire stations in the City of San Diego. And Firefighter Tim Hill said it’s the job he always wanted.

“I always told everybody I’m gonna be firefighter or do professional sports, and you don’t see me with a baseball in my hands or a football,” said Hill.

Hill grew up in Coronado. He started his professional career as an Air Force firefighter and was deployed overseas, later working for the Department of Defense stationed in Delaware, but he knew he always wanted to return to San Diego. After taking a job with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, Hill received a request for volunteers to join the department’s newly formed Honor Guard. His military experience qualified him to serve as assistant coordinator. In the two years since, the Honor Guard has served during two funerals for Fire-Rescue Department personnel.

“In a line of duty death, when it’s usually in a church, there’s a casket up front with a flag draped across it, just letting everybody know how much the person was respected,” said Hill.

The Honor Guard is made up of firefighters and lifeguards who attend a week-long academy to learn techniques for flag presentation, carrying a casket and other rituals. They train together once per month to keep their skills sharp. The crew will also serve as color guard for less somber occasions, to mark the opening of a new City building or graduation ceremonies. On Saturday, March 12, the Honor Guard participated in the 36th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, starting with a flag presentation at Balboa Park. Lifeguard Sergeant and Honor Guard member Gavin McBride says, no matter the circumstance, the rituals are taken seriously.

“You’re not only honoring the person the event is for, but you’re honoring your country; your department. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that,” said McBride.

To learn more about the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, visit the City of San Diego’s website.