Raleigh Asst. Chief of Training W. Keith Tessinear was honored last week at the annual North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Raleigh on Saturday, August 28, 2021. His named was added to the memorial in 2020, but no service was held last year, for public health concerns.
He and twenty-three other fallen firefighters from 2020, 2019, 2018, and earlier years (and decades), were honored in a morning ceremony at Nash Square in downtown Raleigh. His attending family members were escorted to the base of the memorial and presented with a flower and a folded flag, as his name was read and a bell was rung. For more information on those honored, visit the NCFFF web site.
Chief Tessinear was also added to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 2020 roll of honor, and will honored along with 2021 honorees at the annual memorial weekend, scheduled for October 2 and 3, 2021, in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Chief Tessinear died on August 29, 2019, at age 55, from occupational cancer. He was diagnosed with lymphoma on June 1, 2018, and passed away fourteen months later. On November 27, 2019, the North Carolina Industrial Commission recognized his passing as a line-of-duty death.
He entered the department on February 13, 1991, and rose through the ranks, promoted to Firefighter First Class (1994), Lieutenant (1997), Captain (2001), and Battalion Chief (2007). He was appointed as a Division Chief on January 14, 2012, first serving in Operations and then assigned to Training.
Chief Tessinear was appointed Assistant Chief on March 31, 2015, first assigned to Services, followed by the Office of the Fire Marshal where he served as the city Fire Marshal starting on July 13, 2015. He was later reassigned to the Training division. He had served 28.6 years at the time of his death.
Funeral services were held on September 1, 2019, at the Chapel at Bright Funeral Home in Wake Forest, with burial at Clyde’s Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery in Wendell on the same day. Fire department members Lowell Smith, Dennis Marshal, Jerry Pace (ret.), Marvin Brooks (ret.), Raymond Harrell (ret.) and Randall Wright (ret.) served as pallbearers.
Chief Tessinear was the brother-in-law of both Division Chief David Whitley and Lt. and Asst. Facilities Manager Matt Taylor, the uncle of Firefighter Justin B. Hales, and the nephew of retired Lt. Bobby L. Smith (ret. 1977), and thus related to Smith’s son-in-law, retired Asst. Chief Garry Spain (ret. 2015).
He was the fourth Raleigh firefighter to die in the line of duty, following Drive Vernon J. Smith (1956), Firefighter II Paul A. Mimms (1965), and Lt. Herman S. Jones (2008), plus Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad volunteer member Robert L. Battle (1959).
See more Mike Legeros photos from the event at https://legeros.smugmug.com/Fire-Photos/2021/2021-08-28-ncfff/
Source: Legeros RFD LODD history, https://www.legeros.com/ralwake/raleigh/history/personnel/lodd.shtml