Firefighter Garrett Paiz, a Coachella Valley native who died in a car crash while battling the recent wildfires in Northern California, was remembered Friday as a hero who died doing what he loved and like his fellow firefighters, never put his safety before others.
Paiz, 38, died on Oct. 16 after the water tender he was driving overturned down a steep hillside in Oakville. Paiz was delivering water to firefighters battling the Nun Fire, one of several deadly brush fires that scorched Napa and Sonoma counties this month.
Paiz, who was born in Indio and graduated from Coachella Valley High School, was remembered during a public Friday morning service at Destiny Church, 82625 Showcase Parkway.
Obed Martinez, the senior pastor at Destiny Church, where Paiz’s brother also serves as a pastor, praised Paiz and his fellow firefighters for “going to work for others.”
Martinez, whose father was a firefighter in Los Angeles County, said “Garrett, like my dad, never woke up in the morning to go to work for himself.”
Paiz would “volunteer to go and do what most of us wouldn’t do,” and would be remembered for his selflessness.
“This is what Garrett leaves us,” Martinez said. “If there’s anything you’re going to walk out today with, I believe this is exactly what he would want you to walk out with, and it’s this: Don’t live to do something you’re not willing to die for.”
Among those in attendance were Rep. Raul Ruiz, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia and members of the Noel Fire Department, where Paiz volunteered in southwest Missouri.
Noel’s fire chief, Brandon Barrett, led the Firefighter’s Last Alarm, with the tolling of a firehouse’s bell signifying a firefighter’s final call for service.
Following the memorial, Paiz was interred at the Coachella Valley Cemetery in Coachella.
Paiz lived in Missouri with his wife and was a volunteer firefighter with the city of Noel’s fire department. He was working as a contracted firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection during the Northern California blazes.
He is survived by his wife Bobbie, daughter Terri Ann, parents Armando and Judi, brother Carlos and sister Cinthia.
In addition to his memorial service in Indio, Paiz was given a sendoff in Napa County last week by members of the California National Guard’s 49th Military Police Brigade.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens also ordered that all state government buildings in McDonald County, where Noel is located, will fly their flags at half-staff until sundown Friday in honor of Paiz.
–City News Service