Education

East Carolina University employee, volunteer firefighter dies of the flu

ECU School of Music employee Dawn Harrison discusses fire prevention with children at Bear Grass Elementary School.
ECU School of Music employee Dawn Harrison discusses fire prevention with children at Bear Grass Elementary School.

A volunteer firefighter who worked at East Carolina University died of the flu on Monday, according to the fire department.

Lt. Dawn Harrison, 43, was a firefighter at the Bear Grass Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department in Eastern North Carolina and worked at the ECU School of Music.

Fire Chief Greg Harrison (no relation) said Dawn Harrison was the department’s first woman firefighter and began serving in 1999. She recently had taken the lead on the department’s fire prevention program at Bear Grass Elementary School.

Dawn Harrison decided to become a firefighter to prove that she could, after being concerned that the Bear Grass department had no women.

“It all started out as an ongoing joke with then Fire Chief Keith Wynne,” she told ECU’s news services in 2010.

Since her time with the department, she had been named Firefighter of the Year and First Responder of the Year.

“Dawn’s organizational skills and computer knowledge are essential in keeping accurate and detailed departmental records,” Chief Harrison said in 2010. “She is a dedicated member of the Bear Grass Volunteer Fire and Rescue.”

Christopher Buddo, director of the ECU School of Music, also praised Dawn Harrison’s dedication.

“We are proud of Dawn’s commitment to the Eastern North Carolina community through her invaluable volunteer service at Bear Grass Fire and Rescue,” he said. “She is a credit to ECU and an example for us all.”

“Harrison was well-known in the Bear Grass community and will be missed,” said Kurt Honican, the fire department’s chaplain and a first responder.

Dawn Harrison is survived by her husband, Alan, a fellow firefighter, and 12-year-old son, Tanner.

Visitation was scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Rose of Sharon Church in Bear Grass. The funeral is at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, her family is asking that donations be made to the Bear Grass Fire-Rescue Department.

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