On Sunday, Oct. 4, the lives of 82 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 21 firefighters who died in previous years, including Assistant Chief Keith Tessinear, will be remembered during America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters online at 10 a.m.
The name of a Raleigh fireman will live on forever at a national memorial dedicated to fallen firefighters. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation recently paid tribute to Assistant Chief W. Keith Tessinear. His name will be added to the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters monument in Raleigh and then to the national memorial in Emmitsburg, Md.
Chief Tessinear, who died of cancer in the line of duty on Aug. 29, 2019, began his professional career with Raleigh Fire Department in 1991, excelling at the job and rising to the rank of assistant chief of training. Chief Tessinear was a member of RFD for more than 28 years, serving in all four divisions (Operations, Training, Services, and Office of the Fire Marshal).
The fire department was Chief Tessinear’s home away from home, according to his colleagues. He enjoyed everything fire service related and considered it an honor and a privilege to work daily with his firefighter family. Over the years while working at RFD, he obtained a master’s degree in science and completed the Executive Fire Officer Program with the United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy.
Unselfish and Dedicated Service
“Chief Tessinear embodied the values of RFD through unselfish and dedicated service,” said Brad Harvey, Raleigh interim fire chief. “One could depend on him to provide honest feedback, even when the conversations were difficult. He served his peers with humility and honesty. He loved his family, as well as a good laugh.”
Ronny Mizell, assistant fire chief who worked with Tessinear for almost three decades, agreed.
“He was also an excellent communicator and gave solid advice. He had a special gift to see things for what they were. If I was working through a personal or professional problem, he would say, ‘give me the facts and only the facts, Ronny’ or, ‘put it on a 3 X 5 card’ or, ‘what’s the goal?’ I later learned that this simple process was not for him to help me, but rather it was for me to help myself see things clearly.”
Losing a long-time, loved colleague was difficult for the entire department, but his memory will live on in their hearts.
“Chief Tessinear preferred Maxwell House coffee, would only order pizza with pepperoni and loved unsalted almonds. We miss our brother,” Harvey said.