The funeral for Lynden Fire Chief Robert Spinner was held in Saturday, a little more than a week after his death.
Spinner, 50, suffered an apparent heart attack jogging while on duty and died on July 14, becoming the 56th U.S. firefighter to die in the line of duty this year. He became the interim fire chief in April after joining the department in 2010 as assistant chief.
He was a 25-year veteran of the fire service. It is the first line of duty death in the Lynden Fire Department’s 107-year history, and the second on-duty firefighter death in Whatcom County – the other line of duty firefighter death was in March 1950, when Whatcom County Fire District 7’s Chief Clyde Eaton suffered fatal burns as a barrel of fuel exploded at a fire.
Hundreds of firefighters and police officers from across the state along with border patrol authorities attended the memorial in the Expo Building of the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds, 1775 Front St. in Lynden.
Spinner was given a memorial reserved for firefighters who die in the line of duty. A procession led by members of the Bellingham Firefighters Pipes and Drums escorted Spinner’s family to the service.
Speakers included Spinner’s son Austin, former Lynden Fire Chief Gary Baar and Kurt Langstraat, pastor at North County Christ the King in Lynden.
A recorded song sung by Spinner’s daughter Emma brought even the most stoic firefighters to tears. Spinner is survived by his wife Tammy, son Austin, daughter Emma, brother Russell and his mother Shirley.
Baar struggled to speak at times but shared a lighthearted memory of Spinner always arriving on scene at night before him no matter how fast Baar tried to get out of bed.
“He must have worn his jumpsuit to bed because I tried many times and I could never beat him,” Baar said.