Woodbridge Fire Chief Remembered
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Family, friends, co-workers and members of area fire and police departments gathered this Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge on Minnieville Road to pay their respects to former OWL Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard “Ricky” Arrington.
Arrington, 55, passed away on August 28 after an illness and leaves behind a legacy as someone who was dedicated to the community and the OWL VFD since joining in 1973.
The aisles of the church were a sea of blue and black as dozens of firemen and policemen sat to hear anecdotes and pay tribute to a man who had made such a huge impact on the department.
“Ricky inspired all of us to achieve greatness. He was a pillar of our department for many years; he stood tall and proudly represented the OWL family time and time again, no matter what the situation was. Ricky’s conviction was his dedication to this department and his community,” said OWL VFD Chief Jim McAllister.
McAllister went on to speak about how Arrington trained him to be the Chief that he is today, and how he always put others first.
“There was really nothing more important to Ricky than family – and he had a big one. We were a part and still are part of it, whether we’re immediate family or extended family from the fire department, Garfield, or friends and co-workers; we were all considered family,” McAllister said.
“A loving son, an amazing brother, and the best uncle anyone could ask for. His love was abundant, unconditional and without judgment,” said OWL VFD member Barry King.
Several co-workers and friends, such as Cliff Wilder of American Fire Equipment and OWL VFD President William Spicer, spoke about Arrington’s impeccable character, and how he made them laugh by speaking about pranks and jokes that Arrington had done with his fellow OWL members.
In addition to being a committed member of the OWL VFD, and a focused family man, Arrington, who was a Gar-Field Senior High School graduate, was a statistician for the Gar-Field football team for decades.
“Bringing home one for him this year would be a great tribute, but I don’t want to put any pressure on you,” McAllister said, as the crowd chuckled.
There was a slideshow and video played with several family photos of Arrington growing up, and loving messages from friends and family to Arrington. Before the funeral procession, a last radio call was made in honor of Arrington’s passing, before a bag piper played as the casket was moved on to a department pumper truck, to be brought to his final place of rest at the Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax County.
A large funeral procession of fire and police vehicles passed through a monument of two connected fire trucks, before heading towards Fairfax Memorial Park, with several emotional on-lookers watching as the pumper truck carried Arrington from the church.
After the procession, long time co-worker and friend, Jeff Bayer, spoke with us about his friendship with Arrington.
“I started with the fire department in 1982, on the rescue squad and grew to know Ricky. I lived in the fire house with him for five to six years. We went up through the officer’s ranks and he got me to move off of the ambulance and over to fire by throwing snowballs at the ambulances, to get me to step over. He was an incredible mentor – everything they said about him today was so true; he was calm, cool, smart, creative, he never lost his cool. Fantastic friend with fantastic memories.”
Arrington leaves behind his mother, sister, brother-in-law, brother and sister-in law, as well as several nieces and nephews.