‘We are hurting’: Community says final goodbye to fallen firefighter

SPOKANE, Wash. — The community came out in droves to say their final goodbye’s to a hometown hero taken too soon.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department says it’s a tragedy to deal with a loss like this, but they’re celebrating the legacy of a firefighter who never stopped serving his community. Dan Patterson died unexpectedly from heart complications he suffered after a shift.

There was a sea of first responders stationed at the Millwood Fire Station on Wednesday where firefighter Patterson served and left a lasting impact.

“We want to just make sure that they know that we support them today,” said Mark Jensen. He’s a local dentist whose office is right next to the Millwood station.

Jensen and his dental team wouldn’t miss the procession for a public servant. They didn’t know firefighter Patterson personally, but they know the impact first responders have and how selflessly they give to others.

“Our community’s are lifted by the human spirit that they carry and the love for us that they have, and it was a tribute to see them come and honor the Patterson family,” he said.

The procession started in Millwood and wound through several streets, stopping traffic as people stopped to watch and pay respect.

The procession ended at Calvary Spokane for a private funeral service for family and first responders. Losing firefighter Patterson is a tragic loss for those who knew him and the community he touched.

“Our community and our fire department, we are hurting right now,” said Frank Soto Jr. He’s the chief with the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

During the service, various other fire departments throughout the region stepped in to fill the Valley firefighters’ shifts. It allowed many to pay their respects to Patterson and say their goodbyes.

Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer called it a brotherhood and sisterhood unlike any other.

“It is tough, it is extremely organization to lose one of the community’s heroes,” said Chief Schaeffer. “And we’re certainly a part of a much bigger family, and this family is no different than your family or mine. We do what we need to do for the people that we love.”

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is in mourning along with other first responders who will remember their fellow servant as someone who went above and beyond.

“Dan always carried extra blankets, moving blankets that he used to pick up from harbor freight,” said Shawn Pichette, president of Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876 Union. “When we’d go on calls, when people didn’t have enough warmth, he would go there after shift and give them a blanket just to help keep them warm. That’s the kind of person firefighter Dan Patterson was.”

While Patterson isn’t with us anymore, his legacy lives on. As an organ donor, his final act of service was to give others the gift of life. Through his tragic death, the community is seeing life through a new lens.

“Life is short. The opportunities we have to show gratitude for those who serve our community don’t come very often,” Jensen added. “It was good to be out here today with some of our patients and our staff to honor them.”