Firefighters risk their lives to save others. When a firefighter passes, both their loved ones and their fellow firefighters tend to emphasize the importance of honoring a fallen hero by planning a respectful funeral.
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One way to pay tribute to a firefighter who has passed away is to play music. However, if you’re planning a firefighter’s funeral, you might struggle to decide which songs you should choose.
Keep reading if so. This guide will offer a number of suggestions worth keeping in mind. For more general funeral and memorial planning advice, check our guide on planning a memorial service.
Traditional Firefighter Funeral Songs
One of the easiest ways to ensure a firefighter’s service is respectful is to play common traditional firefighter funeral songs, such as these:
1. “Amazing Grace” by John Newton (originally)
Many would say that “Amazing Grace” is the most popular firefighter funeral song in the US. This would make sense, as the lyrics and music work together to express a mood of respect and dignity that’s appropriate for the occasion.
2. “The Minstrel Boy” by Thomas Moore (originally)
Becoming a firefighter was a popular career choice for Irish immigrants striving to make a living. Thus, it’s not uncommon for firefighter funerals to include renditions of this Irish patriotic song about a fallen hero.
3. “Tolling of the Bell” by Unknown
This is less of a funeral song and more of a short musical component of many firefighter funerals. It involves tolling bells in a traditional pattern.
4. “Flowers of the Forest” by Unknown
Bagpipes often play a major role in firefighter funerals. This piece is a traditional option that was once more popular before “Amazing Grace” grew in popularity.
5. “The Lament for the Children” by Unknown
This is another traditional bagpipe piece that has sometimes historically been played during the funerals of firefighters.
Tip: In addition to these traditional options, you’ll find even more options if you explore the music of firefighter orchestras. Throughout the country (and likely the world), various communities are home to orchestras consisting solely, or at least primarily, of firefighters. They tend to play bagpipe music and often directly provide the music for local firefighters’ memorial services
Consider finding out if there is such an orchestra in your community. You could check out the music they play to get ideas. You may even reach out directly to ask if members have any suggestions. If your loved one was a firefighter, odds are good that some of the members of their company will be able to tell you whether such an orchestra exists in your area.
Contemporary Firefighter Funeral Songs
The music you choose to play at a firefighter’s funeral doesn’t strictly need to be traditional. Sometimes, the best funeral songs are contemporary. More recent firefighter funeral songs include the following:
6. “The Firefighter Song” by Paul Cummings
“The Firefighter Song” has become a popular choice for the funerals and memorial services of deceased firefighters thanks to the manner in which it simply but powerfully acknowledges the way firefighters must sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice in service of others. Just be aware that the song is a work of Christian rock and therefore might not be ideal for the service of someone who practiced a different religion.
7. “The Fallen and the Brave” by Dave Carroll
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation actually commissioned this song. It is therefore an obvious choice for a firefighter’s memorial or funeral.
8. “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting
When selecting firefighter funeral songs, it’s worth remembering that they don’t need to literally be about firefighters at all. For example, after the 9/11 attacks, many firefighters (particularly in New York City) adopted this popular track as an unofficial anthem celebrating their courage.
9. “The Bravest” by Tom Paxton
You’ll find that songs about 9/11 are often strong choices when planning a firefighter’s memorial playlist. Consider this example, which reminds listeners that firefighters are those who rush into burning buildings while everyone else is running out of them. It’s an option particularly worth considering if the deceased was a fan of bluegrass music.
10. “One More Day” by Bret Michaels
This song expresses the regret some feel when they lose a loved one tragically and are left to wonder why they didn’t take the time to fully appreciate their presence while they were still here. It’s another 9/11 song and one that could qualify as a firefighter funeral song. These types of songs are also useful when you’re choosing music to play over a funeral slideshow or video.
11. “For You” by Keith Urban
This song explores the thoughts of a firefighter who wonders whether they would actually be able to lay down their life to save others. They conclude that they would be willing to make such a sacrifice because doing so is the ultimate act of love.
12. “Shine Your Light” by Robbie Roberton
Robbie Robertson wrote this song for the soundtrack to the film Ladder 49, which depicts the dangers firefighters face and the way they honor one another’s memory when a fellow firefighter passes.
13. “American Firefighter” by Dennis Beyer
As the title suggests, this track is simply a tribute to firefighters and the work they do.
14. “The Fireman” by George Strait
This country classic describes how, for some firefighters, their jobs aren’t just careers. Because they do such important work, for some, being a firefighter is their identity.
15. “Sirens” by Brother Joe
Brother Joe is a country-rock artist perhaps best known for songs like this one, which he wrote as a tribute to the firefighters who risked or even lost their lives on 9/11.
16. “Fighting 17th” by Hans Zimmer
You don’t have to limit your options to songs with lyrics when choosing what to play during a firefighter’s funeral. You can also select instrumental pieces. For example, consider this option by Hans Zimmer, which served as the main theme for the movie Backdraft, which was also about firefighters.
17. “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth
Although not specifically about firefighters, this song can still serve as a fitting choice to play during a firefighter’s funeral because its lyrics describe someone who is only a phone call away when others need saving. It’s easy to understand how this could relate to firefighting.
18. “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
This song’s lyrics describe a firefighter responding to the 9/11 attacks. They imply that he may have lost his life (although that’s only one interpretation) but rose to Heaven and is in a happier place.
The song urges listeners to similarly rise together to overcome life’s pains. It’s a choice you may want to consider if you’d like to generate feelings of celebration and hope during what could otherwise be a somber occasion.
19. “Into the Fire” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
“Into the Fire” is another option to keep in mind from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. While “The Rising” describes the experience of a firefighter attempting to save lives, the lyrics of “Into the Fire” describe the same events from the perspective of a firefighter’s spouse.
They acknowledge that the loved ones of lost firefighters do crave for them to be still in their lives, but can find peace by remembering that they lost their lives serving a higher calling.
One more Springsteen track to think about is “Mary’s Place.” This song is perhaps more appropriate for a celebration of life that you may organize after mourners have had sufficient time to grieve.
It tells of friends and family throwing a party to remind the spouse of a fallen firefighter that they will always be there to support each other. It’s a joyful reminder that loved ones can help each other move on with courage and hope after a tragic loss.
Firefighter Funeral Songs to Honor Heroes
As this list has hopefully made clear, you have no shortage of options from which to choose when deciding what songs to play at a firefighter’s funeral or memorial service. The best way to make this type of decision is to simply choose the music that seems to naturally resonate with you during this time.
Along with paying tribute to a loved one, playing the right music at a firefighter’s funeral can help you more clearly express your feelings about someone you lost.