COLUMBIA— A memorial service for Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt, who was killed after a walkway collapsed at University Village early Saturday, has been scheduled for Thursday morning at The Crossing.
The MU Faculty Council is encouraging faculty to observe two minutes of silence at 10 a.m., when the service is scheduled to begin at the church near the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road.
Fire, emergency medical service, law and public safety personnel wishing to participate in the procession or the service can make arrangements with the following contacts.
- Honor Guards: Lt. Eric Caszatt, 881-0180
- Pipe and Drums: Shawn Morris, 986-8435
- Apparatus: Dana Dixson, 874-7393
- Personnel: www.mofirefuneral.org
The apparatus staging area for the procession will be at Cosmo Park, 1615 W. Business Loop 70.
"At the moment of his death, Lt. Britt was assisting MU students in the evacuation of their apartment complex," said Craig Roberts, the council's chairman of university policy, in a news release.
Gov. Jay Nixon ordered that flags at all state government buildings in Boone County be flown at half-staff on Thursday in honor of Britt, according to a news release from Scott Holste, a spokesman in Nixon's office.
Britt was a 23-year veteran with the Fire Department and the first Columbia firefighter to be killed in the line of duty since 1986.
On Thursday, a procession is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m. from Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Firefighters and other public safety personnel are expected to join the procession to the church.
In a Saturday news conference, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced that the university's residential facilities had been inspected for safety after the collapse. He also announced that MU had hired a structural engineering firm to check on the safety of all buildings leased and owned by MU starting Monday.
Members of MU's Department of Residential Life and building engineers addressed residents of the MU-run University Village apartments after the deadly walkway collapse.
Frankie Minor, Department of Residential Life director, said the university is still waiting on answers as to what caused the collapse and fielded a bevy of questions from concerned residents.
"We don't have all the information," Minor said. "We want to make sure we're doing a thorough analysis of what happened, but we're relying upon the experts to critically analyze this, to come up with the most accurate representation of what happened."
Residents living in the affected building have been evacuated, but they were able to retrieve essential items from their apartments Saturday night and Sunday morning. Minor said they have temporarily been placed at other campus facilities or in hotels.
Wooden structures have been placed beneath walkways on all buildings in the complex as a temporary preventive measure. The structures were recommended by engineers to guarantee safety and could remain in place for the next six to eight months.
"We're waiting on their analysis and their report to determine what corrective measures might need to be taken," Minor said. "Our bottom line concern is safety and security."
Built in 1956 and virtually unchanged since, the two-story brick University Village apartments were designed to house graduate students and students with families. The MU Department of Residential Life has been considering renovating or rebuilding University Village since 2008.
Residents at the meeting Sunday expressed concern about the safety of their homes, and many questioned Minor about when a timeline of further action would be determined. Some wondered about the future of University Village given its age.
"My guess is by the end of the semester, you'll know what the future of this place is," MU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said at the meeting.
Other residents were undecided if they would continue to live at the apartment complex.
Betsabé Castro Escobar and her fiancé, Victor De Jesús Reyes, were among the residents living in the collapsed building and are unsure whether they will remain at University Village.
"I have the same feeling as every resident here," Escobar said. "I believe this could be avoided and something that could be worked on previously before tragedy happened."