HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Huntsville volunteer firefighter was laid to rest Monday afternoon after losing his life in a work-related incident a month before. Brian Sexton’s life was all about two things: his family and volunteer firefighting.
“He was a hard worker just to take care of his family. He, yeah, loved his family a lot. He always wanted to do family stuff,” Tina Large, Sexton’s mom, said.
Large said her son loved family gatherings. He loved holidays where they would all get together and talk about food and firefighting. Some of her fondest memories of her son include when he became a father.
“He was so tickled. He was happy. He loved his girls a lot, but when he knew he was having a boy he was tickled to death,” Large said.
Sexton had a second family he loved: the Huntsville Volunteer Fire Department. He started volunteering there when he was just 15 years old.
“He was really dedicated. He loved everything about the fire service. He was always fun to be around. He was positive, always wanted to make things better,” Nathan Daggs, Chief of Huntsville Fire Department, said.
Daggs said he was fortunate enough to work with Sexton for 10 years. While on duty, Sexton was known as Bubbles. Daggs wasn’t sure why, but said it could have been because of his funny and positive personality.
Sexton loved incorporating his two families. Daggs remembered for his latest child, Sexton wanted to use a ladder truck for the gender reveal party.
“We put blue dye in the tank, and did his gender reveal using our ladder truck and that just made his day, you know, when he knew he was going to have a son. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see his first birthday,” Daggs said.
Large said Sexton’s family knew the risks of him fighting fires, but they knew if he died doing what he loved, his death would have been a little easier to accept. However, he died at his other job.
“December the 3rd actually, he was at work and one of the asphalt silos, from our understanding, exploded and he was burnt,” Large said.
Large said 65% of her son’s body was covered in burns. She said he was first airlifted to UT Medical Center, but was soon transferred to Vanderbilt.
She said he ended up having a bad infection around Christmas. She was told doctors had to use an experimental antibiotic to fight the infection, and it worked.
The family soon after found out Sexton also had fungus in his system due to the burns. Large said when doctors went to go check him out again, they learned Sexton had several infections in his brain and ended up having a stroke.
He lost his fight on Jan. 4.
“It’s not fair that he’s not here to be with them and to watch them grow…I promised him that me and his sister would help as much as he could and that we’ll make sure that they remember him. They’ll know who their daddy was,” Large said.
Daggs said Sexton talked about how whenever he did die, he wanted to be buried as a firefighter, so that’s what they did.
Members of his fire department were the pallbearers. He had the full honor guard service. At the end of his funeral, his last call for service was announced over the radio.
“His number at the fire department, we’re going to permanently, nobody’s ever going to wear that number again in his memorial. We’ve got stickers being made we’re going to put on our trucks that say in memory of Brian,” Daggs said.
Daggs said Sexton’s wife was given her husband’s helmet and firefighter name patch. His mother was given the folded American flag.
Although he will no longer be on earth with his family, he will always be with his fire department and his children, keeping them safe in a different way.
“Daddy’s an angel now, isn’t he? Daddy’s watching over you now, isn’t he,” Large said to her grandchildren.
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Sexton is survived by his wife, Devon Sexton; children, Braylee, Allie, Raelynn, and Jameson Colt Sexton; mother, Tina Large and Shannon; grandmothers, Pearl Morrell and Jan Honeycutt; sister, Emma and many other relatives and friends, especially his brothers and sisters at the Huntsville Fire Department, according to his obituary.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and finances for his wife and children. You can find it by clicking here.