TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Tupelo is mourning the loss of a veteran firefighter. Sergeant Paul Bailey passed away unexpectedly Friday due to complications from pneumonia.
Sergeant Paul Bailey’s obituary said, the heart of a first responder is the heart of a hero, that first responder , and man of faith, who was also known as an avid fisherman, got a hero’s sendoff in Tupelo.
“The fire department is a family,” said Tupelo Fire Chief Thomas Walker.
And that family gathered at Pegues Funeral Home to celebrate , reflect and mourn the sudden passing of Sergeant Paul Bailey. The 50 year old joined the Tupelo Fire Department in 1999 when a new station was opened. Fire Chief Thomas Walker remembers when Bailey was hired. The chief says there was one constant trait about Bailey through the years.
“One thing about Paul, you were going to laugh, if you were around him for a while, he was one of those rare people that, life was serious, but he didn’t take life serious, he could smile, laugh, could make light of a situation, he could be there at the moment, when you needed that person at the moment,” Chief Walker said.
First responders from across the area were there for Tupelo Firefighters , working their shift, so they could say goodbye to a friend and colleague.
“We have several guys from outside departments and they are manning the fire stations right now, thank you to those that have come in, as you can see behind me, these guys, they want to be here, cause this is their brother passing,” Walker said.
Sergeant Bailey took one final ride on the fire truck as his casket was placed on Engine 5 for the procession to the graveside service at Tupelo Memorial Park. Chief Walker says the last ride is a longstanding tradition.
“Kind of a last opportunity for him to actually be part of something with the fire service, that is the least we can do, at times we helped him and at times he helped us and this is one of the last things we can do for his family and we’re honored to do it,” Chief Walker said.
Sergeant Paul Bailey leaves behind a wife and three children.