A recent traveler sent in a intriguing photo to Renton Regional Fire Authority (RFA). Way off on the west coast of Ireland, they came across a Renton fire badge and band.
In a post on the RFA blog, staff said they began to ask around about the patch. It was in good condition, so it must have been a recent firefighter. Quickly they found the person who placed it, who the RFA left anonymous on the post.
According to that staff member, the patch was honoring former RFA firefighter Donovan Eckhardt, who died in 2015.
The anonymous patch owner told the RFA their family was on vacation for the team members 40th birthday when they stopped at the Cliffs of Moher. A fence alongside the coastline and “emerald green fields” was covered with hair ties and wrist bands that folks said sometimes honored the fallen.
“I just felt a sense of peace and tranquility while standing there and think about Donovan often in beautiful locations like this,” the team member stated in the blog post.
It felt appropriate as Eckhardt was a hiker and outdoorsman, the post states, so the staff member took the patch out of their backpack, leaving a piece of the RFA in Ireland.
In the blog post, the RFA state that Eckhardt, though young, received several accolades for the work he did, and was described as “strong, selfless and kind.”
Eckhardt was also the inspiration for the Lionhardt organization, which RFA and Renton Police Department raised money for at this year’s First Responder’s Bowl.
The Lionhardt organization supports local first responders and families dealing with illness and tragedy.
“Our profession is very fast-paced, but every once in a while we come across something that reminds us to slow down and appreciate where we’ve been and those who have traveled the journey with us,” the post states.