Fallen firefighter honored

A flag that has flown in cities across the country to honor fallen firefighters, law enforcement officers and military members was in Wichita on Friday to honor a firefighter who died this month.

For most of the day, the United States Honor Flag flew outside Station 11 at 1845 George Washington Blvd., where Capt. Urban Eck was stationed until his death Jan. 2.

"It's a huge honor," Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said. "It's a one-of-a-kind flag. That they would send it to Wichita is a huge honor."

Eck, 51, was hospitalized with heart-related symptoms Dec. 18, five days after fighting a fire at the Cedar Lake Apartments clubhouse near Pawnee and Rock Road.

The cause of Eck's death remains under investigation, Crisp said, but the department is approaching it as a line-of-duty death.

The U.S. Honor Flag, which originally flew over the Capitol in Austin, Texas, was sent to New York City shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It flew over ground zero during the recovery efforts and memorial services.

The flag later was taken into combat with soldiers in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq. It has since flown in dozens of cities to honor public servants who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

J.J. Barrientos, the Wichita Fire Department's honor guard shift commander, said the flag's arrival in Wichita was set to coincide with a day when Eck normally would have been on duty at Station 11.

Barrientos said Eck's co-workers were among those taking part in the flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremony.

"It means a lot to them," he said.