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'Family, God and the Fire Department': TFD remembers fallen Captain Brenden Rudy

Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 12, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee Fire Chief Jerome Gaines, describes Captain Brenden Rudy as a leader at the fire department.

Captain Rudy died in a car accident on Fairbanks Ferry Road in Leon County on Satruday night.

Calling Station 1 in downtown Tallahassee home base, Captain Rudy was also a member of the Urban Search and Rescue Team, an elite group of firefighters trained to respond to some of the most critical incidents a city could see.

"He was a man of faith, he was a family man, and he loved the fire department. Those were the three things that he talked about the most was family, God and the fire department," Chief Gaines said.

Calling Station 1 in downtown Tallahassee home base, Captain Rudy was also a member of the Urban Search and Rescue Team, an elite group of firefighters trained to respond to some of the most critical incidents a city could see.

"You couldn't find a better man," said Chief Gaines. "We obviously promoted him to Captain because he embodied what we believe are the skills and characteristics to be a successful officer for his department, but he was a good man. He was a good man."

The loss of Captain Rudy, unfortunately, something familiar to the department as the cities firefighters are continuing to cope with the loss of Public Information Officer Sarah Cooksey who died on Oct. 3, 2021 in a motorcycle accident.

Those tragedies combined, something Dr. Kellie O'Dare and her team at the Second Alarm Project are helping first responders through.

"Obviously trauma compounded sometimes is more difficult to handle so we keep that in mind as well, but we go back to our fundamental strategy of approach for these things and that's a heavy push on education, peer support being a heavy part of what we do," said Dr. O'Dare.

The Second Alarm Project is available for all first responders in the Leon County Area--provides grief resources, like counseling and peer support that allows first responders to talk out their emotions and feelings during tragic losses like the death of a coworker or even a difficult call.

"Each person is different, each event is different, no one grieves the same. Each process is different, the grief process for everybody is very individual," said Dr. O'Dare.

Current Public Information Officer Todd Inserra said he's noticed a difference in firefighters who use Second Alarms peer support.

"The results speak for themselves. At one time in people's careers, maybe they didn't have this type of benefit to have, but it surely works," said Incerra.