Firefighters and family mourn the loss of Captain Bone who died after contracting COVID-19

Firefighters carry the casket of 39-year-old veteran firefighter Merrill Bone to a fire engine after his funeral on Saturday at Olympus High School in Holladay. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

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HOLLADAY – Family members and hundreds of officers gathered on Saturday to celebrate the impact Captain Merrill Bone of the United Fire Authority has had on their lives. Speakers spoke of Bone’s desire to learn, humor and ability to teach.

Bone died on October 31 after being hospitalized with COVID-19. His death was considered a death in the line of duty, as it was presumed he had contracted COVID while on duty, and the ceremony contained the pageantry that a death in the line of duty deserves. its functions.

“We have responded to thousands of COVID-related emergencies over the past 20 months. Our firefighters have used all personal protective equipment, however 104 FMU employees have still tested positive for COVID since March 2020 “said United Fire Authority chief Dan Petersen.

Petersen said 90.1% of UFA employees have been fully immunized, including Bone. He was part of the “handful” of firefighters who had a decisive case.

Family members and hundreds of officers gathered on Saturday to celebrate the impact Captain Merrill Bone of the United Fire Authority has had on their lives.
Family members and hundreds of officers gathered on Saturday to celebrate the impact Captain Merrill Bone of the United Fire Authority has had on their lives. (Photo: Unified fire)

“Today we pay tribute to a man who has dedicated 39 years of service to our communities and lost his life while providing this service. Today is your opportunity to learn more about the Captain Bone, to pay tribute to the man and to honor the family who have shared this wonderful person with us for 39 years, ”said Petersen.

Bone’s son Trevor Bone, who is also a firefighter, spoke at the funeral service about his father’s many adventures as a bull rider, realtor, contractor, paramedic, firefighter and paramedic. He said he and others would miss hearing his father’s stories and learning from his experiences.

“If you weren’t trained by my dad somehow, your coach was,” Trevor Bone told the uniformed firefighters on the service.

Merrill Bone served with the United Fire Authority for 15 years as a member of Utah Task Force One, and prior to that he was in the Salt Lake City and West Valley City Fire Departments. Along with the task force, one of 28 national disaster teams, Bone has been deployed to help after emergencies like hurricanes, earthquakes and even 9/11. He reported the experience of these circumstances to help the people of the force.

UFA Captain Craig Outzen, who was with Bone when he responded to 9/11, said while he was there Bone had climbed several managerial positions, simply because that was how it was. Just being part of the response, Outzen said, was not Bone’s plan.

“I enjoyed being with Merrill,” Outzen said. “He made me better.”

Bryan Case, program director for Utah Task Force One, said Bone had held many different roles as a paramedic, instructor, and a member of the Federal Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue Advisory Group. emergency management.

“This guy was a source of strength, obviously a great friend. A lot of people here don’t really understand how deep and wide his reach was outside of Utah,” Case said.

In addition to the institutional knowledge Bone shared with the firefighters, Case also spoke about his humor and in particular the words that several people at the funeral called “merrillisms.” These lyrics added humor to a stressful situation, but also taught Bone colleagues and helped them do their jobs better.

“Merrill could give you the spine when you needed it, but Merrill could also bring that lightness when, you know, things were a little too stressful. He was just, in a lot of ways, he could read a play, understand. whatever was going on, then be that personality or that version of Merrill that you needed him to be, “Case said.

Case said the firefighters who were part of the surveillance outside Bone’s hospital room wrote some of these “Merrillisms” on a board outside the room.

United Fire Authority Captain Jerry Mayne said Bone inspires brotherhood among firefighters. Mayne and Bone both had cancer at the same time, and Bone encouraged him to come back, sooner than he expected, requiring more support from the rest of the crew.

“He had a way of encouraging and teaching sometimes without you even knowing it and as you all know if you ask Merrill for his advice he will give it to you then you better be prepared,” he said. said Mayne.

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