Detroit Firefighters honor fallen sergeant by feeding homeless

A Detroit Firefighter's last wish was to feed the people of Detroit. His fellow firefighters made that happen.

- Sgt. Vince Smith spent more than 20 years with the Detroit Fire Department but he was more than a brave firefighter. Now, his fellow firefighters are honoring their fallen comrade who died in his sleep while on the job last week.

On Tuesday, the crew from Engine 48 spent part of their day passing out food to the homeless to keep Sgt. Smith's spirit alive.

Sgt. Vincent Smith died suddenly last week at the the firehouse. According to a friend and fellow firefighter, this was what Sgt. Smith wanted.

"Vincent came into the firehouse that day and his last wishes were to make some sandwiches and take them down to the homeless," Terry Davis said.

Yet Vincent died before that could happen. On Thursday, his last wish was made a reality when 240 meals for Detroit's homeless were handed out. The meals included fruit, water and sandwiches for the men, women, and families in need.

"Turkey and cheese, we had ham and cheese, there's peanut butter and jelly, there's some pastrami, hand-cut Italian bread. They're good sandwiches," EMS Captain James Gatteno said.

They chose the area of 3rd and MLK for a specific reason.

"EMS, itself, has had a big history with this shelter of coming down here. This is where two of our technicians were attacked (and) we're trying to give back and make it a more friendly environment for everybody who comes down here," Gatteno said.

While the people fed were appreciative of Detroit EMS and the firefighters' goodwill, they were a bit surprised when the engine pulled up and thought there may have been a fire nearby.

"I thought it was a fire right here. I said 'what?" Sammy Ward said.

"They got a real heart. They got a real heart. They help us out, help feed and everything. It was real nice," Darrell Gordeon, who temporarily lives at the shelter, said.

The cause of Sgt. Smith's death is unknown. His visitation is set for Friday at the James H. Cole Home for Funerals with his funeral coming on Saturday in Detroit. 

"I just wanted to make sure his last wishes were followed through with," Davis said.

And they were, thanks to generous donations from the 7th Battalion.


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