Funeral services held for Unified Fire Capt. Merrill Bone

Nov 6, 2021, 5:52 PM | Updated: 7:35 pm

HOLLADAY, UtahFuneral services were held Saturday for Unified Fire Authority Capt. Merrill Bone, who died nearly week a week ago due to complications with COVID-19.

Unified Fire has planned funerals for its firefighters before.

Unfortunately, they’re good at it.

The challenge was putting together a proper funeral for someone like Capt. Merrill Bone.

“His humor, his kind of salty nature, but also his knowledge and what he brings to the fire service is definitely going to be missed,” said Unified Fire Assistant Chief Riley Pilgram.

Capt. Bone was legendary.

He worked with several fire departments in the Salt Lake Valley and specialized not only in fighting fires, but also with medical training.

There’s a saying among area firefighters if he didn’t train you, he probably trained your trainer.

That’s part of why Olympus High School in Holladay was packed.

Hundreds of his friends, colleagues, and family were there to honor and remember him.

“Today, we’re honoring a man who gave 39 years of service,” said Unified Fire Chief Dan Petersen.

It seems everybody knew Bone, which his family said often meant planning extra time to go out.

“His children recall that grocery shopping with their father lasted significant amounts of times because there wasn’t a Costco you could attend or walk through where Merrill didn’t know somebody walking up and down each and every aisle,” said Kristin Bone, who is Merrill Bone’s daughter-in-law.

Bone also served on Utah Task Force 1, which is a federal urban search and rescue team.

He was involved in several missions, such as New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as hurricanes Katrina and Irma.

“A lot of folks around here locally don’t really understand how deep and wide his reach was outside of Utah,” said Bryan Case, program manager for Utah Task Force 1.

For all the professional experience Captain Bone brought to Unified Fire, though, he may be best known for his silly sayings.

They’re widely known as “Merrill-isms.”

His son Trevor and daughter-in-law Kristin shared a few during his funeral service.

“Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the hydrant.”

“The only good boot is one that lasts more than two hunting seasons.”

“I’m so old, I remember when the dead sea was just sick.”

“We have ice cream in the freezer that has more seniority than you.”

“I’m about to fill this room with uppercuts.”

“If you drop the baby, pick it up.”

“Eventually, all fires go out.”

It’s that attitude and personality that will be missed, as well as his skills as a firefighter and his knowledge of just being a human.

“I love you, Merrill. Gonna miss you forever,” said firefighter Nate Kay, who was one of the speakers at the funeral.

Capt. Bone’s death is being treated as a line-of-duty death since Unified Fire officials say he got COVID while on the job.

He was vaccinated and is considered a breakthrough case.

However, more than how he died, his colleagues say it’s how he lived that really makes him special.

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Funeral services held for Unified Fire Capt. Merrill Bone