Funeral held for San Francisco Fire Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Firefighters from stations around the Bay Area are helping to cover for San Francisco firefighters attending the funeral of Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel.

The funeral for Terry Smerdel began Tuesday morning.

Smerdel is described as someone who always had a smile on his face and was always willing to help out. He had just made battalion chief in January. He died suddenly at his Chinatown station after returning from a building alarm call. The fire department says it is important for his co-workers to have today to grieve, that's why they called in help

Hundreds of firefighters saluted as Smerdel's flag-draped coffin was carried into the church.

They came from all across San Francisco.

Agencies from throughout northern California also sent their members to salute their fallen comrade.

ABC7 went inside San Francisco's emergency operations center where 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers got some extra help due to the funeral.

The center usually operates at what's called "level one," but was running at "level two," Tuesday, meaning several city agencies have officials working alongside each other.

They coordinated things like traffic diversions and the "out-of-town" fire crews that will respond to emergencies in San Francisco during the funeral.

"If you call 911, if you have a medical emergency, you may see a fire engine from Salinas, or a fire engine from Hayward show up. There is still a paramedic firefighter on that engine. They are trained in public service and they are going to address your needs 100 percent, just like you would if you had a San Francisco fire engine arrive on the scene," said San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter.

RELATED: San Francisco fire battalion chief dies in line of duty

There are 180 visiting firefighters from 12 agencies. They will do three drills with San Francisco firefighters this morning to acclimate them to this city and will be issued department radios so they can communicate with dispatch
The funeral began at St Ignatius at 10 a.m. with a procession to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

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