Excerpts from the News-Gazette.com:
About 11:45 a.m. Monday, an emergency alert tone for the Homer Fire Department came over the radio.
“This is the final call for Firefighter Mike Cummins, who dedicated 31 years to the fire service,” said a dispatcher from METCAD, her voice reverberating from the radios of firefighters standing at attention outside the Homer New Life Church of Faith.
“The Homer fire chief and department members thank him for his service to the community,” the dispatcher continued. “We’ll never forget his honor, courage and duty. May he rest in peace.”
Dozens of fire, police, and emergency medical personnel from Champaign, Vermilion, and Piatt counties gathered at the church to say goodbye and pay their respects to Mr. Cummins, who was remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather; an avid fisherman; and a dedicated volunteer firefighter for Homer and other communities.
Firefighters filed into the sanctuary and took their seats across the aisle from Mr. Cummins wife, Cindy, and friends and relatives. Mr. Cummins’ black helmet, bearing No. 17, and his turnout gear sat at the front of the room.
Pastor Dave Ashby, the chaplain for the Champaign and Urbana firefighters and senior pastor of Trinity Community Fellowship in Farmer City, officiated the service with Pastor C.W. Greer of the Homer church.
Ashby confessed that he never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Cummins. But after talking with his loved ones over the weekend, he said it became apparent that a few words could best describe him — fisherman, family man and firefighter.
On their last night together, the minister said, Mr. Cummins “bounced up and down in their bed,” then repeated to his wife, “Hello, beautiful.”
Then a tone from his radio sounded late at night.
“Mike jumped up at the tone,” Ashby said. Before he left, he said to his wife one last time, “Hello, beautiful. I love you.”
On Monday, a large American flag hung from ladder trucks from the Savoy and Tuscola fire departments.
At the end of the service, two bagpipers played Amazing Grace and then Going Home, as fellow firefighters placed Mr. Cummins’ casket in the back of the Homer Fire and Rescue truck, draped with black cloth. After his last call, a funeral procession made its way from the church through town down Main Street and under the large flag.
There, more firefighters stood at attention and saluted Mr. Cummins’ casket as it drove by. A number of residents also stood at both sides of the road.
Firefighters put one last message for their fallen brother on their sign out front: “RIP, Firefighter Mike Cummins. We got it from here.”