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Local volunteer and professional firefighters turned out en mass on Saturday to give a huge send-off to a 27 year-old fire department lieutenant who was tragically killed one week ago.
James Dotter, of Beacon, died last Sunday from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He grew up in the area and moved to South Carolina to take a job as a full-time firefighter. Just over two years later, he moved back to Beacon because he missed his 3 year-old son. He was a longtime member of the Fishkill Protection Engine Company #1.
Dotter’s wake was held in Fishkill on Friday night. On Saturday, hundreds of firefighters, EMS members, and police converged on his funeral to pay their last respects.
The Coldenham Fire Department generously volunteered to spend the day covering all calls in Fishkill so their firefighters could attend the services without distractions. As the funeral procession passed by Fishkill’s firehouse, the on-duty crew of Coldenham firefighters lined the side of the road wearing their turnout gear. They stood facing the Fishkill Fire Department’s membership, decorated in their full dress uniforms. As the fire engine carrying Dotter’s cremated remains passed between the lines of Fishkill and Coldenham firefighters, they all saluted. They held their salutes until Dotter’s family finished passing the firehouse beneath a large American flag hanging from the Fishkill Fire Department’s ladder truck.
Volunteer firefighters from the Vail’s Gate Fire Department, as well as professional firefighters from the City of Newburgh Fire Department, also attended. The crew of Vail’s Gate firefighters missed their own town’s Community Day event so they could bring one of their ladder trucks to participate in the funeral procession.
Departments from Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Westchester Counties all turned out to pay their last respects. Some of the fire apparatus involved the procession draped purple bunting on their rigs to mourn Dotter’s loss. The City of Beacon and the Rombout Fire Departments provided trucks to carry the flowers. The Rombout and East Fishkill Fire Departments hung an additional flag from their ladder trucks over the intersection of Route 9 and Route 52. Many other fire departments and agencies participated in the procession, which was led by a police escort.
Dotter’s turnout gear, including his three helmets, were laid out inside the funeral home.
As a gesture of good faith, members of the East Fishkill Fire Department spent all of Wednesday evening at the Fishkill Fire Department helping their grieving members to wash and detail all of their fire vehicles in preparation of the funeral.
In addition to his three year-old son, Dotter is survived by his parents, a sister, a brother, and many extended family members.
A GoFundMe page has been created by Dotter’s family to help provide for the 3 year-old who will grow up without his father. A goal of $20,000 was established, but community members have already donated $22,360. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund may do so here.