Tallahassee firefighter honored


82 years later, a firefighter’s legacy is still burning.

Lewin Spear, a Tallahassee native, was laid to rest November 30, 1930 after suffering from burn injuries he sustained in his line of duty as a firefighter. 

He and 12 other firemen were summoned to the locations of two warehouses near the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in Tallahassee because heavy smoke was pouring from them. 

The door of one of the warehouses failed to open and Spear proceeded through a window.  Flashover occurred, resulting in burns all over Spear’s body.  Spear died at 44 after being  rescued by Chief T.P. Coe, who also sustained burns.

Spear was originally a volunteer firefighter in the 1930s but was later chosen as one of the first members of the Tallahassee Fire Department on May 1, 1930.  The Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial, located at the Florida State Fire College, will honor him in Ocala on Friday at 9:00 am.

 “I think it’s important to honor him. Being a firefighter is about brotherhood and we show respect to each other,” said Lieutenant Jason Greisl, of the Tallahassee Fire Department.  “As firefighters we put our lives on the line and hope that we don’t have to put our family through the same thing that Lewin’s family went through.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice.” 

The Tallahassee Fire Department brought Spear to the attention of the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial.  

The Joint Council later approved the decision to honor him as a firefighter. The memorial begins with a prayer breakfast for immediate and extended family, friends, and staff of the memorial. Honor Guards will lead the ceremony and a brief reading of Spear’s life will be presented to those in attendance.

“We have been honoring firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1992,” said MaryAnn Benson administrative assistant and coordinator of the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial.  “This year, we have selected Spear and nine other firefighters who have died in the line of duty.”

Spear’s name will be engraved in one of three granite stones, which collectively include the names of 167 firefighters who died in the line of duty in Florida dating back to the 1800s.  The Chaplin, as well as others, will deliver a speech during the ceremony. 

A fallen firefighter flag and medallion will be presented to Spear’s family.  In addition, Spear’s name will also appear on the Wall of Honor in the state capitol.

“People all over the state of Florida will be in attendance, along with a representative from each fire department to show support,” Greisl said. “Being a firefighter is truly a calling.  Your heart has to be in it and your family has to be behind you 100 percent.”