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Bereavement Uniform Program

Bereavement Uniform Program
The Bereavement Uniform Program, after almost five years, has come to the end of its beginning.  The program is up, running and available to all and the opportunity for every firefighter, paid or volunteer, active or retired, to answer their ‘last call’ in a Class A at no charge to the family, is now a reality… 
… and it is time to thank those organizations and individuals who were instrumental in getting the program to where it is today. 
A big thank you is in order to Washington’s Fire Service Organizations and this note is to recognize those associations and acknowledge their efforts in creating awareness with their membership. 
Additionally and more importantly, this thank you recognizes that associations don’t really do anything.  People do and the following folks were instrumental in making sure enough surplus dress uniforms were donated to accommodate all the requests. 
I am very proud to say that members of Washington’s firefighting community were among the ‘most generous’ and demonstrated on numerous occasions a willingness to ‘step up’ and put their surplus dress uniforms where their hearts were. 
Among those that led from the front;  1. The Washington Fire Chiefs, particularly Director Wayne Senter and Kathleen Harmon (the 1st Lady of the BUP), Jim Walkowski (who carried the program on his shoulders) and retired director Mike Brown (who provided light when there was none). 2. The Washington State Fire Commissioners Director Roger Ferris and Member Services Coordinator Amber Nolan for getting surplus dress uniforms added to the WSFC Surplus Property Resolution list. 3. The Washington State Firefighters Association’s Ed Mund for being instrumental in the development of the BUP ‘Faces / Voices’ look and feel and particularly Ron Roy for his invaluable advice and contacts. 4. The Washington State Council of Fire Fighters and Greg Markley for finding room for a program announcement on their website and for lending his name and thoughts to the BUP SPRING CLEANING for a CAUSE call out for uniform donations… 5. ...and last but not least, to the departments and individuals who sent in their surplus dress uniforms.  Without them, the program couldn’t work. You can find their donations memorialized on the Bereavement Uniform Program’s ‘Be Remembered’ Wall of Fame. 
The next phase of the BUP is two-fold. It is less glamorous and more difficult and hopefully, this note will inspire those not yet involved to ‘throw their surplus dress uniforms and voices’ into the ring. 

 Surprisingly, what’s proving most difficult, getting the BUP message into the hands of the smaller and volunteer departments.   
That message; the Bereavement Uniform Program is not charity in any way, shape or form.  It is an ‘earned’ recognition of service and a benefit that ‘comes with the job’.  It is a thank you from the Lighthouse to the Fire Service.  It is a thank you from the Fire Service to itself and it is an extraordinary opportunity for the firefighting community to do something very special for those that call it ‘family’. 
The second thing is to keep those surplus dress uniforms coming.  Without an adequate supply of donated dress uniforms, a unique opportunity to raise the level and manner in how America’s Fire Service ‘takes care of all its members’ will be lost and the Bereavement Uniform Program will join other ‘good ideas’ in the dust bin of history. 
Don’t let it happen on our watch. 
Respectfully yours, 
Steve Cohen, Pres. Lighthouse Uniform Company Home of the Bereavement Uniform Program 
Posted: Jul 25, 2017,
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