Barstow Fire veteran Spink honored by family, friends, ‘brothers’

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Family, friends, and firefighters from in and around the High Desert gathered Saturday for a full-service memorial to the life and career of David Spink, a decadeslong Barstow Fire engineer who became the local department’s first line-of-duty death earlier this month.

The memorial began in the early morning of Jan. 22 with an armada of first-responders, fire engines and vehicles, and bagpipe players marching the streets of Barstow.

It concluded with a sorrowful service at Barstow Community College Performing Arts Center in honor of Spink, who was critically injured in the early hours of Dec. 5 after a car hit him at highway speed as he assisted with a separate crash Interstate 15.

After more than a month fighting the injuries at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Spink died on Jan. 9, with an assembly of first-responders carrying his body by a hearse that night to Victor Valley Memorial Park & Mortuary.

Spink would have turned 57 years old in June of this year.

He spent more than three decades fighting fires in Barstow, beginning his career as a paid call firefighter in 1990, then joined Barstow Fire Protection District full-time two years later and took on the rank of engineer in 1999.

BFPD interim Chief Nick DiNapoli told the Daily Press he has never had to plan a firefighter’s funeral in his roughly four decades at the Barstow department.

A fire service memorial Jan. 22, 2022, honored longtime Barstow Fire Protection District engineer David Spink, who became BFPD's first line-of-duty death after more than a month fighting injuries sustained Dec. 5.
A fire service memorial Jan. 22, 2022, honored longtime Barstow Fire Protection District engineer David Spink, who became BFPD's first line-of-duty death after more than a month fighting injuries sustained Dec. 5.

“The services were amazing but I wish we didn’t have to have a service,” he said. “I wish that he was still alive with us.”

DiNapoli said Spink’s family is suffering, as is every worker in the small fire department of only 25 personnel, which has continued handling an always heavy volume of first-response calls with “a tremendous hole in our hearts.”

“The funeral we put on and the procession was for Dave, but it was also for all the calls he went on,” DiNapoli said. “For all the people he ever served, and the ones that didn’t make it, we reflected on all those folks as well. You can’t possibly not reflect on every experience like that.”

BFPD Fire Captain Travis Espinoza told the Daily Press in a text, “His passing has left a void that can not be filled!” He added that “it was amazing to see the support from our fire service family and community” at the memorial and throughout his hospital battle.

“This tragic death has shook the core of our organization, yet we will try to move forward in whatever our new normal is,” Espinoza said. “Losing our brother has forever changed us. We will continue to get on the engine and do our best to represent Dave.”

Spink’s legacy within BFPD lives on partly through his son, firefighter and paramedic Dallen, who spoke at the memorial Saturday. DiNapoli said the senior Spink stayed on the force as long as he did in part for the opportunity to fight fires with his son.

A memorial flyer stated Spink's family prefers donations be made to the California Fire Foundation or the Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House in lieu of flowers.

Charlie McGee covers the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities for the Daily Press. He is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or cmcgee@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Barstow Fire vet honored after line-of-duty death

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