Lt. KevinMcRAE-001

D.C. Firefighter Lt. McRae’s funeral was held May 15. (Photo courtesy of the DC Fire and EMS Department)

The untimely death of D.C. firefighter Lt. Kevin McRae brought together some of the highest officials in D.C. government and law enforcement and a host of family and friends. They gathered May 15 at the D.C. Armory at a memorial service in celebration of his life.

While many run away from a fire, McRae ran toward it, said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) during her remarks at the service,“Lt. Kevin McRae was always there for every one of us, he was ready to die for everyone in the audience if the time came.”

That time, for McRae, was on the morning of May 6.

He accepted a call to fight a fire in a high-rise apartment building located in Northwest’s Shaw neighborhood. After completing his assignment, he came out of the building and collapsed. He was rushed to MedStar Washington Hospital Center where he died a short time after the fire had been extinguished.

McRae was “a son of the city,” said Norton, whose late grandfather also served in the department. Raised and educated in the District, McRae, 44, attended Ballou High School in Southeast, D.C.

From age 5, he knew that he wanted to be a firefighter and joined the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department out of the cadet program at Ballou in July 1989. For nearly a quarter century, McRae rose through the ranks as serviceman and teacher in the academy. During his off days, he was known to patrol unfamiliar neighborhoods in the city so he could act quicker and smarter when on duty. In 2003, he was promoted to sergeant, then lieutenant in 2008.

“He was a fireman’s fireman,” said D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean, “that means the people who work beside you, trust you with their lives.”

McRae was last assigned to Engine 6 on New Jersey Avenue NW. He was the 100th firefighter to die in the line of duty in D.C.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and President of the D.C. Fire Fighters Association IAFF Local 36 Edward Smith spole to a family especially grief-stricken since the lieutenant’s cousin James McRae was the 99th D.C. fireman to die on duty of a heart attack in 2007.

McRae is survived by his wife, Trell Parker McRae, his daughter Desmond McRae, 19, and sons Davon McRae, 18, and Kevin McRae, 6.

He is remembered as a hero. “We are not here because he died,” said Mendelson. “We are here because he lived.”