KBTX Media, The Eagle and WTAW/Candy 95 are collecting funds for the families of two Bryan firefighters killed in the line of duty, as well as a pair of their fellow public servants who were critically injured during the rescue attempt.
A fund has been set up by Brazos Valley Media Giving Back, so that donations can be made at any of the The Bank and Trust locations: 2900 S. Texas Ave., 3400 Texas 21, 1920 W. Villa Maria Road, Suite 202, all in Bryan, or the College Station location, 2305 Texas Ave., S.
Please make the check out to BV Media Giving Back, and note in the "memo" line that it’s for Bryan firefighters.
Lt. Eric Wallace, a 36-year-old father of five and 13-year veteran of the department, was pronounced dead at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Groesbeck Street not far from Bryan’s main headquarters on William Joel Bryan Jr. Street.
Lt. Gregory Pickard, 54, died at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston after suffering serious burns. He had served the department for 32 years.
Firefighter Ricky D. Mantey Jr., 30, and probationary firefighter Mitchel Moran, 21, also were taken to the Galveston hospital where they were listed in critical condition Saturday evening.
The three media organizations — television, newspaper and radio — teamed up in 2011 to gather donations for those impacted by the wildfires.
KBTX General Manager Mike Wright on Saturday lamented that everyone wants to help the Bryan firefighters in some way, and this fund is a good opportunity to do so.
"In situations like this, the heart of the community is heavy," Wright said. "We all feel the sadness, we all have a stake in what happens here, and part of our calling is to take care of each other. We are always better together."
Eagle Editor Kelly Brown said she’s always impressed and inspired by how Brazos Valley residents respond to their neighbors who are hurting.
"Whether it’s a wildfire that’s erased 30 homes, a deadly explosion that’s rocked the region, fatal car crashes, horrific diseases in which the family doesn’t have insurance — whatever the tragedy, whatever the pain, this community gives back in many different ways," Brown said. "Last night’s tragedy reminds us that every single hour of every day there are firefighters, paramedics, police officers and dispatchers taking care of us. That deserves attention all the time, but especially now."
Ben Downs, who oversees Bryan Broadcasting, said giving back to these families is the "least we all can do to show our support and appreciation to such public servants."
"First responders like Lieutenants Wallace and Pickard are a foundation of society - they fight disaster from closer than I ever will," Downs said. "We call them when there’s trouble and they need to know that when things go bad, we have their back. It’s what we can do for the people willing to put our safety ahead of their own."
A public memorial service honoring fallen Bryan Fire Department Lieutenants Greg Pickard and Eric Wallace will be held Wednesday, February 20, at 10 a.m. at Central Baptist Church located at 1991 Farm to Market Road 158, College Station, Texas 77845.
Details regarding logistics for this event are as follows.
Apparatus from visiting fire departments will stage at the Bryan Target Shopping Center parking lot located at the intersection of State Highway 6 (Earl Rudder Freeway) and Briarcrest Drive no later than 6:00 a.m. Wednesday. The actual physical address of the Target store is 3061 Wildflower, Bryan, Texas 77802. A tent and a Bryan fire apparatus will mark the gathering site in the parking lot. From there, apparatus will move to the procession area along Boonville Road at 7:00 a.m.
All fire, police and public safety personnel, along with dignitaries participating in the walking procession, should park their personal vehicles at Momentum Plaza located at One Momentum Boulevard in College Station, Texas 77845. From there, these officials will be shuttled to the rally point. Shuttles begin running at 6:00 a.m. After the service, shuttles will then return these individuals from the church to the parking area at Momentum Plaza.
The staging area for those participating in the walking procession will be at the intersection of FM 60 (University Drive) and Boonville Road. The procession will begin its walk to the church at 8:00 a.m. The procession will be led by the Bryan Fire Department. Federal, state and local dignitaries will follow as well as emergency response personnel from all over the U.S. and Canada. Dignitaries who cannot physically participate in the walking procession will be provided with parking passes.
The general public will park at Veterans Park, 3101 Harvey Road, College Station, Texas 77845. From there, busses will transport the public to and from the church. Shuttle busses will run from 8:00 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. and will return to the parking area after the memorial service is concluded.
Boonville Road/FM 158 will be closed from Pendleton Drive to Elmo Weedon Road from 5:00 a.m. until after the memorial service is completed. The intersection of FM 60 (University Drive) and Boonville Road/FM 158 will be closed during the same time frame.
Governor Rick Perry has ordered all national and state flags on state agency and political subdivision buildings in Bryan and the surrounding area lowered to half-staff until sunset Friday to honor the lives and service of Lt. Pickard and Lt. Wallace. Businesses may also lower their flags.