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'Gentleman' Mike Frost remembered as a model firefighter

A full-honour firefighter funeral procession was held in downtown Sudbury today for firefighter Mike Frost, who died on May 19 at the age of 40 in what is considered a line-of-duty death

A full honour firefighter funeral procession made its way through downtown Sudbury today in honour of first-class firefighter Mike Frost, who died unexpectedly at his residence on May 19. 

“Mike was a gentleman,” Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters Association president Mike Squarzolo told Sudbury.com after the subsequent funeral service at Church of Christ the King wrapped up this afternoon. Behind him, a large Canadian flag held up by two ladder trucks was being rolled up by firefighters in such a manner that it didn’t touch the ground. 

“He was polite to a T, he was quietly proud, he enjoyed making people smile,” Squarzolo said of his 40-year-old colleague. “He was a hard-worker, all around a model firefighter by all accounts and we miss him a lot.”

The afternoon funeral was sombre in tone, but something Squarzolo said he believes Frost would have been proud of, with the distinguished way in which the city’s emergency services departments came together to celebrate him “the way he deserved to be honoured.”

Click here for a photo gallery of the funeral procession. 

The public nature of the funeral procession, which included emergency vehicles, personnel and a police marching band make its way through the downtown core to the church, was also befitting of Frost’s impact on the broader community, Squarzolo added.

“In Mike’s years of service, he helped countless people on the front lines as a firefighter,” he said. “It’s difficult to quantify, but there are countless people in Sudbury who are better off because Mike was there to help on their worst day.”

The funeral service was difficult, he said, adding that this is the first full honour firefighter funeral procession they’ve taken part in. Squarzolo looked forward to moving onto the celebration portion of their commemoration that was scheduled to follow.

“In the last few years, PTSD has been recognized as very prevalent in first responders,” Squarzolo said, linking his fallen colleague’s death to post-traumatic stress disorder, which is what qualified it as a line-of-duty death.

“It was really nice to have everybody together and feel the support from each other because at the end of the day we do have each other’s backs,” Squarzolo said of the day’s showing of dozens of local emergency personnel from various departments. “We have a lot of healthy competition on a day-to-day basis, and that tends to be put aside for moments like this when it has been really great to have their support.”

Just about everyone will have known Frost personally, he said, noting the fire department is of a size that everyone gets the opportunity to work with pretty much everyone else at some point.

According to his obituary, Frost was born in Sudbury on Feb. 9, 1982, and went on to graduate from Cambrian College’s Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training program.

“The love for his community was demonstrated when one of his greatest accomplishments was fulfilled by providing emergency services to his community as a firefighter,” according to his obituary. “Mike’s willingness to serve his community was also demonstrated by the various occupations he held throughout his life.”

Today’s funeral procession was organized by the Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters Association with support from the city, whose flags have been flying at half-mast in honour of Frost. 

Frost’s family has asked for donations to be made to Wounded Warriors of Canada in lieu of flowers. According to their website, they are a mental heath service provider mandated with “Creating an environment of compassion, resiliency and hope for Canada’s Veterans, First Responders and their families.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.