Community members joined firefighters in Essex, Vermont in giving a special tribute Thursday to a 12-year-old girl who died earlier this month.
Addison "Addi" Carroll was an honorary member of the Essex Fire Department, which held a powerful goodbye salute to her.
"What a beautiful little human being she was," Chief Charlie Cole of the Essex Fire Department said of Carroll.
Known to firefighters as "Firegirl," and given her own call sign of 15A1, Addi died this month at Boston Children’s Hospital – with her parents by her side. According to her obituary, Addi spent nearly a quarter of her short and often difficult life in the hospital.
"That never got in her way from enjoying her life," Addi’s dad, Ian Carroll, told NECN & NBC10 Boston Thursday, referencing her many medical struggles. "So be sure you do what you love and enjoy doing it, no matter what."
Fire personnel in Essex adopted Addi as an honorary member of the department, and even named a truck for her.
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Addi’s mom and dad said their daughter, who had numerous severe and complex medical issues – including cognitive impairments – just loved the fire service. She was always alert to sirens, and would want to check in with the fire station to make sure her friends made it back safely from calls, her parents recalled.
"There was something about the way that firefighters live their life and serve their communities and created a family together with themselves," mom Tammy Carroll said of the appeal the fire service had to her daughter. "And the way the fire service does that across the country, across the world, that they’re all brothers and sisters. That really mirrored and matched the way Addi lived her life."
After her funeral service Thursday at the Essex Alliance Church, Firegirl’s department held a procession for its young member, then a "last call" ceremony that saw firefighters ringing a ceremonial bell.
Chief Cole asked neighbors to remember Addi for her gentle and joyful spirit.
"Be a little more kind in the world," Cole implored. "[If we had] more people like Addi, we would have a lot less problems.”
Fire personnel from other communities joined the Essex Fire Department in Thursday’s tribute to Addi.
According to Carroll’s obituary, community members donated in Addi’s memory to the Essex Firefighter’s Association and to Angel Flight Northeast. That nonprofit organization provides free air and ground transportation for patients accessing life-saving medical care.