During the month of September 2021 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department bid goodbye to two of our members who died within days of each other.
CRFD Chaplain Billie Bright passed away on the morning of Sunday, September 12 following a long bout with illness. Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso died just one day later on Monday, September 13 following a brief illness.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funerals for both men, who were laid to rest with full honors.
Funeral services for CRFD Chaplain Billie Bright
Funeral services for Chaplain Bright were held on Friday, September 17 at Second Nazareth Baptist Church in Columbia. Following the service Bright’s flagged-draped casket was carried aboard CRFD Engine 9 in a procession to Greenlawn Memorial Park for internment.
Battalion Chief Desso’s funeral was held on Monday, September 20 at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Irmo. From there a procession made its way across the Lake Murray Dam to Lexington where burial services took place at Woodridge Memorial Park.
Funeral services for CRFD Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso
Procession routes for both funerals would be lined by CRFD crews as well as firefighters from outside agencies that took part to pay their respects.
Chaplain Bright served CRFD beginning in September of 1998 when he first was hired on as a firefighter. Over the course of 12 years he rose through the ranks to the position of fire captain until his retirement in July of 2010.
After realizing that he still had a desire to serve his community, Bright would later become chaplain for the department and further grow in a support role for his fellow firefighters by providing comfort and counseling to them in their darkest moments.
Battalion Chief Desso bravely served the citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County for 24 years. From the beginning of his career as a volunteer firefighter in 1992 he rose through the ranks of CRFD and was promoted to the rank of battalion chief in 2017.
Throughout his career Chief Desso worked to shape firefighters and future leaders of CRFD. As a fire captain in 2016 he was recognized along with the members of his crew for their work rescuing a person that was entrapped in a burning structure.
CRFD thanks members of the community who have offered their prayers and support to both Chaplain Bright and Chief Desso as well as their families and all who continue to be in mourning during this difficult time.