Tim McClanahan, a member of the Lewes Fire Department, passed away on July 11, 2016. Tim was a member of Delaware Air Rescue Team. He was also a member of the Sussex County Technical Rescue Team and an Instructor with the Delaware State Fire School. He tragically died on a training assignment with the air rescue team.

Tim served the Lewes Fire Department as an Assistant Chief, Captain, and Assistant Engineer among other offices. When he was the Marine Rescue Captain, he was instrumental in the purchase of the Lewes fireboat.

As an instructor with the fire school, Tim put his love for the fire service and his passion for teaching into every class he taught. I had the pleasure of working with Tim for the last six years in the Basic Firefighting Skills Program. There was nothing shy about Tim in front of the classroom. He may have told a few war stories but he could match wit with reality to deliver the lesson plan to his students.

Six years ago, Tim and Chief Gordon Davis of Lewes Fire Department helped create the Delaware Air Rescue Team, comprised of 18 firefighters and medics. Tim loved being part of the team and probably had more flight hours than any other member. He was always calm, professional and reassuring and was truly an asset to the team.

Tim died Monday evening, July 11. Tim had to be moved three times, each time escorted by fire apparatus. When he was moved to the ME’s office in Wilmington, on every overpass there were fire trucks with American flags and saluting firefighters. The most impressive move was the return trip from Wilmington to Lewes, with 82 emergency vehicles in the escort. The convoy was led by a contingent of Delaware State Police motorcycles. Along the way were civilians standing with hands across their hearts or saluting and even a children’s day care with all the kids waving American flags.

During the week of mourning there was a steady stream of companies from all over the State of Delaware covering two of the Lewes Fire Stations, 24 hours a day. The Friday editorial in the local newspaper said it best, “The network, redundancy, coordination and dedication of all of these organizations working together and supporting one another for the benefit of all their communities is nothing less than amazing.”

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency services workers along with federal, state and local politicians attended his funeral service at Cape Henlopen High School.

On July 17, 2016, Tim’s casket was placed upon Engine 1 and the procession started its slow ride through the streets of Lewes. Along the way, in the canal, was Tim’s fireboat, with deck guns flowing, along with a Delaware State Police helicopter. The procession ended at Lewes Fire Station 1, with folding of the flag by the State Police Honor Guard, the sound of taps, the serenity of the fire siren, and the fly over by the helicopter. All giving their final salute to Tim.

– Story by Warren Jones, photos by Chuck Snyder