Dennis Brent Remembrance
The Charlottesville Fire Department and Palmyra Volunteer Fire Company are mourning the loss of one of their own.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville Fire Department and Palmyra Volunteer Fire Company are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Fifty-six-year-old Dennis Brent passed away Saturday, December 1 from pancreatic cancer.
A funeral service at Charlottesville’s Ridge Street Fire Station on Dec. 8 is expected to draw hundreds of people from across the country.
Brent was a Charlottesville firefighter specialist and the former chief at Palmyra. He was also a member of the Charlottesville Honor Guard and traveled the country to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Saturday Dec. 8, hundreds of honor guard members will travel to Charlottesville to honor him.
Charlottesville Fire Chief Andrew Baxter says, "This job for him was a calling."
When the alarm sounded and truck nine prepared to roll out of the station, Brent was always the first out the door.
Fluvanna Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Brent, says his younger brother started his career in firefighting at the age of 18;
"That was the earliest he could get in, it was one of the happiest days of his life," he said.
Brent worked his way up the ranks and was eventually named chief, and in Dec. 2000, the city of Charlottesville hired him as a professional firefighter.
Baxter says, "He's someone I immediately realized within the first few weeks was someone I could go to, to get a sense of how I was doing as a new fire chief.”
Brent was known to seek out young firefighters and offer them guidance. He never wanted to miss a day of work.
"This job meant the world to him, it's all he ever wanted to do was be a fireman," says Timmy Cersley, Charlottesville fire department captain and honor guard commander. "There wasn't a day he used in a sick day until the last two years."
Two years ago, Brent was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, following 38 years of exposure to carcinogens and toxins on the job.
Mike Brent says, “He knew there was a risk and all of us know there's a risk.”
He battled the cancer, while still fighting fires, until February of this year, when the disease forced him to retire.
On Dec. 1, Brent lost his battle.
Captain Cersley says, "Dennis never gave up. From day one, I think he was stronger than all of us."
Outside of the fire station, Brent is being remembered as a family man who was devoted to his son and wife.
"If anyone is looking for a guidepost for how to live one's life, look no further than Dennis Brent," said Baxter.
Brent also leaves a legacy his fellow firefighters say they will work hard to uphold.
As a member of the Charlottesville honor guard, Brent traveled the country to honor firefighters who died serving their communities.
Mike Brent states, "He felt a duty and an obligation to honor those firefighters that had fallen in the line of duty.”
On Saturday Dec. 8, hundreds of firefighters will gather in Charlottesville to pay their respects to Brent.
A family visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
Brent will be honored at a line of duty death funeral service Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. at the Ridge Street Fire Station.
Due to several holiday events downtown, there will be increased traffic in the area, so there will be a shuttle service to the funeral from the Albemarle County Office building.
For more information on the funeral service in Charlottesville, please go to www.charlottesville.org/brentservice.