A longtime fixture in the Phoenix Fire Department, Father Carl Carlozzi, died Sunday after a yearlong battle with esophageal cancer.
Carlozzi was a volunteer with the department for nearly 25 years, providing comfort to both citizens and firefighters, fire spokesman Capt. Jake Van Hook said.
“During that time, he responded to tens of thousands of emotionally trying incidents, providing nondenominational spiritual support to both the firefighters and the citizens of Phoenix,” he said.
Phoenix fire: ‘It’s a huge loss’
Over the past quarter-century, Carlozzi, referred to as Father Carl, worked alongside crews around the Valley to comfort residents going through tragedy.
“Just in the same way that our firetrucks respond to incidents, where there has been a tragedy or an accident, Father Carl often accompanied our crews on scene of those incidents to help when they’re particularly emotionally trying,” Van Hook said. “He was there to provide that emotional support, that comfort and reassurance through that emotional time.”
But Carlozzi was not only there for the bad times. He presided over nearly 100 firefighters’ weddings and baptized dozens of their children.
“It is a huge loss,” Van Hook said. “Phoenix Fire Department prides itself on being a family. We talk about our family helping your family. And he was definitely part of our family.”
Big shoes to fill
Because of his long service with the Phoenix Fire Department, an honor guard was selected to stand watch over Carlozzi’s body until he is buried.
The chaplain provided comfort throughout the nation during times of tragedy, such as the 1995 terrorist attacks in Oklahoma City and 9/11. He also performed the last rites and blessed the bodies of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
“I know many who have been very touched by him coming alongside them when they’ve had to do the unthinkable, like bury one of their own family members, even a child,” Van Hook said.
While Van Hook said there is no clear replacement for Carlozzi, whoever steps into that role will have big shoes to fill.
“It just shows his heart, it shows what he cared about, the value he placed on the citizens of Phoenix,” Van Hook said. “Whomever we choose to continue in his legacy will be somebody who I imagine would embody those characteristics that he did.”
Carlozzi is survived by his wife and children. No arrangements for a funeral service have been made public yet.
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