Black and purple bunting in honor of Brant Gammon at Palm Coast fire stations. Photo courtesy of the city of Palm Coast
Palm Coast Observer
Palm Coast firefighter Brant Gammon celebrated his birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with his family. Those were among his last wishes, said Palm Coast Fire Department Lt. Patrick Juliano.
Gammon died Nov. 3, two and a half months after he was diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer. He was 51.
Visitation will be at Clymer Funeral Home, 39 N. Old Kings Road, from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11. The funeral service will be held at Parkview Church, 5435 Belle Terre Parkway, from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12. Fire department honors will follow.
Gammon had been diagnosed in mid-August shortly after completing the Daytona State College paramedic program. Firefighters had spread the word on social media, using the hash tag GammonStrong and organizing a fundraiser to help his family pay for medical expenses.
Gammon joined the Fire Department in 2018 as a volunteer intern and was hired as a firefighter-EMT in 2020, switching careers from IT.
He received his paramedic certification on Oct. 14 at Fire Chief Jerry Forte's retirement and change of command ceremony. The Florida Department of Health awarded Gammon an honorary paramedic license because he was unable to take the exam.
"He completed the program, and had he not been sick, he would have passed the exam," Juliano said.
Gammon is survived by his wife, Josie, a Flagler County Sheriff Dispatcher. Gammon has three grown children: Noah and twins Grant and Grace.
"We are privileged to have seen the courage that he faced this with, to watch the strength of his wife, his children, his parents, his family. And our department has really shown a ton of character to try and make sure that we take care of them. They'll be part of our family forever."
— KYLE BERRYHILL, Palm Coast fire chief
"He's a great guy, we miss him," Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill said. "We are privileged to have seen the courage that he faced this with, to watch the strength of his wife, his children, his parents, his family. And our department has really shown a ton of character to try and make sure that we take care of them. They'll be part of our family forever."
Black and purple bunting have been placed on the outside of the city's fire stations to indicate the department is in mourning.
Berryhill said the PCFD will perform full honors at a firefighter's funeral for the first time in his 17-year career with the department.
"In the state of Florida we agree with some science that says firefighters get cancer at a more significant rate. So Brant is getting full honors from the fire department. We don't do this tremendously often, and that's a great thing. But when we do, we try really hard to do it well. So he is getting some special things from us."
Gammon had been at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville. He returned home on Sept. 26 in a Palm Coast fire engine.
"That was his wish," Juliano said. "He had to get strong enough (through his rehab) to get into the fire engine."
Gammon celebrated an early Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family, Juliano said. His 51st birthday was Nov. 1. He celebrated it on Oct. 15 with his immediate family and his extended family from the Palm Coast Fire Department, the Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.
"We were there everyday to let them know this was our brother who we cared for," Juliano said.
In early September, Josie Gammon told the Observer that she was "kind of shocked" when her husband, then in his mid-40s, told her he wanted to switch careers.
"But I was really excited for him,” she said in a phone interview while sitting by her husband's side in the hospital. “It was a whole new journey for him, and he was just ecstatic about it. He’s had fun with it, learning it and working really hard.”
From his hospital bed, Brant Gammon said he was “looking for a career that would give back to the community 100%. And that was being a firefighter.”
Berryhill said it is unusual for the department to see firefighter candidates at Gammon's age.
"He's special in a lot of ways," Berryhill said. "You know, he started having symptoms in August, which was not long (after) he was a firefighter on a fire truck, in August."