A funeral service is being held Monday for the last surviving firefighter who battled the fatal Strand Theatre fire in Brockton. Retired Brockton Fire Chief Edward “Sonny” Burrell died last week just six months shy of 100th birthday.
Burrell was one of several firefighters that battled the 1941 blaze that took the lives of 13 city firefighters. The fire still ranks among the worst documented U.S. fires in terms of firefighters killed.
He served 40 years on the Brockton Fire Department and later became chief. Current Fire Chief Richard Francis, who was appointed in 1978 by the former chief, says he was fortunate to learn a thing or two from Burrell.
“One of the biggest things he taught me was to be a leader, that you need to be tough, you need to be fair, “said Francis. “The biggest thing was, and I practiced this, he never demanded anything from his men that he wouldn’t do himself. I’ve felt the same way and kept that going.”
Francis says the former chief’s body will take a special route when it travels to the funeral service Monday morning.
“When we leave the funeral home, we will actually take a route that will bring us by Station #1 and as we’ve done in the past, they will take one of the funeral baskets and lay it at one of the columns at the station,” Francis said.”
A funeral mass is set for 10 a.m. at the St. Edith Stein Church in Brockton. Burial will follow at the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Randolph.