FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA/Nexstar) — – Flags across the state of Florida will be lowered in remembrance of volunteer firefighter Brian Smith who passed away while on-duty in efforts to save lives.
Brian Stephen Smith, a member of the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department, went into the Gulf of Mexico waters to save a man and a child but went under himself as the two struggled due to strong currents and waves from Hurricane Laura.
Double red flags flew on the beach, a signal to beach goers that the water was too treacherous to swim in.
Smith volunteered with St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department since 2016 as a firefighter and first responder. He previously served as a police officer in California.
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. “Tony” Smith confirmed the drowning in a Facebook video. He called the emergency workers “true heroes.”
“We’re all heartbroken about the loss of life today from a first responder who heeded the call to go rescue someone,” he said. “Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, difficult time… A lot of people were put at risk today because someone decided to go into the water when they shouldn’t have,” said Sheriff Smith. “Do not go into the water, stay out of the water.”
In honor of Smith, Gov. DeSantis days all U.S. and State of Florida flags will be flown at half-staff at Franklin County Courthouse in Apalachicola, Florida, the City Hall in Apalachicola, Florida, the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department in St. George Island, Florida and the State Capitol in Tallahassee.
The order is in effect from sunrise to sunset.