MANATEE -- The family of a West Manatee Fire & Rescue firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2001 waited 12 years to see him honored at a statewide memorial service.
For Brian Reed's relatives, the wait was over Friday when they attended the 2013 Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service at the Florida State Fire College 12 miles north of Ocala.
Reed and seven others had been left out of previous memorials because the criteria for "dying in the line of duty" was stricter and did not cover his cause of death, Reed's wife, Pamela, said Monday.
Reed was electrocuted early in the morning April 10, 2001, while doing routine maintenance on a light in the company apparatus bay where trucks are parked, said West Manatee Chief Andy Price.
After being shocked, Reed fell about 18 feet from a step ladder being held securely by a fellow firefighter and broke his neck, Price said.
"Brian was recognized na
tionally, but the state of Florida didn't recognize him for dying in the line of duty because he wasn't fighting a fire or training or running to a call when he died, which comprised the criteria," Pamela Reed said. "But now they have changed the criteria to include routine maintenance. There were eight that didn't meet the criteria before and do meet it now and there will be more to come."
About a dozen of Reed's colleagues from the West Manatee Fire & Rescue traveled north for the memorial, including members of the fire company's honor guard and fire commission board.
Reed was a devoted family man who called his young daughters every work night to tell them he loved them.
At the time of his death, Reed's daughter, Elizabeth, was 10 and she is now 22 and a mother herself. Reed's daughter, Donna, had just turned 4 and now she's 16.
"We make sure she knows her dad," Pamela Reed said of Donna. "She does remember that Brian would pick them up at their daycare centers and take them with him during the day."
Elizabeth gave birth to a boy Dec. 9, 2012, she named Brian Eugene, after his firefighter granddad. Brian was with the family at the memorial.
Pamela Reed, who once fought fires with Brian Reed when both were volunteers, now helps raise money for West Manatee Fire & Rescue in the company auxiliary. She also works at Freedom Village.
Reed, a U.S. Marine, had training as an electrician but somehow came in contact with hot wires, Price said.
"We just don't know exactly how it happened," Price said. "It was a tragic accident."
Reed's fellow firefighters describe him as quietly efficient. "Brian was the type of guy who didn't want his picture taken," Price said. "He was very quiet and to himself. He started as a volunteer at the Anna Maria Volunteer Fire District in 1989, got extremely active and became a career firefighter for Anna Maria in 1995."
The Anna Maria Fire District merged with the Westside Fire District in 2000 to become West Manatee Fire District. Reed was part of the newly formed unit,
The other seven honored firefighters: Joseph Barrett, West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department; Leon Benton, Jacksonville Fire Department; John Byers Jr., Ocean Reef Volunteer Fire Department; James Parks, Hialeah Fire Department; Roy Pratt, Orlando Fire Department; Victor Scott, Otter Creek Volunteer Fire Department; and Frank Smith, Cape Coral Fire Department.