Fallen firefighter's procession passes University Village

Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 10:30 a.m. CST; updated 11:23 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 27, 2014
The procession for Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt passes University Village Apartments along Providence Road on Thursday morning.

COLUMBIA — Wooden reinforcements remained in place at University Village on Thursday morning to secure balconies, including the one that collapsed on Saturday at the apartment buildings that house MU graduate students.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, police officers began to direct traffic on Providence Road intersections and vehicles backed up in both directions in advance of the procession for Columbia Fire Department Lt. Bruce Britt, who died in the balcony collapse.

Britt's procession started at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W., and ended at The Crossing on the city's south side. Fire engines, police motorcycles and ambulances drove by the entrance to the apartments where Britt lost his life.

Avi Vatsa, a graduate student at MU who lives at University Village, was walking to campus before the procession.

"This is a great thing toward him," Vatsa said.

Vatsa said not much was different about living at University Village since the tragedy, except that residents, especially those with children like himself, were being more cautious.

"For a student, this is a nice place," Vatsa said. "But people are still wondering if this place is safe."

The procession continued as police motorcycles zipped south on Providence Road in a "flying-V" formation. More than 30 fire trucks from around the state, including nine from Columbia Fire Department, anchored the motorcade.

MU graduate student Giang Bui caught a segment of the procession on his way to campus.

Bui, who plans to move out of University Village, said he was impressed with the procession and appreciates Britt's courage.

"He deserved all this," Bui said. "After everything he did here, he deserves this."

Minutes passed, and the procession made its way past the apartments on course for The Crossing where Britt's memorial service was held.

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