Saint Cloud Fire Department

Don J. Billig - St. Cloud FD

From the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation: On 3 Oct 2004, Don J. Billig, volunteer assistant chief of the St. Cloud Fire Department will be honored at the 23rd annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service held at Emmitsburg, MD.

Don Billig, 49, died October 27, 2003, when he was struck by a vehicle after responding to a fire call at a roadside construction site. An 18-year veteran with the department, he was employed by the VA Medical Center in St. Cloud for over 27 years and was a member of Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 622. His son is also a St. Cloud volunteer firefighter.

The public ceremony will take place at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, constructed in 1981 on the grounds of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In 1990, Congress designated the Memorial as the official national monument to all fallen firefighters. The memorial service will remember firefighters from 34 states and Guam who died in the line of duty during 2003. Three firefighters who died in previous years will also be remembered. Fire service honor guard units from across the country will participate in the national tribute including three Minnesota units - Eagan Fire Department, Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Association, and St. Paul Fire Fighters.

The public Memorial Service will begin at 10 a.m. (EDT). Many fire departments across the country will conduct simultaneous services, sound sirens at noon and observe a moment of silence. Public Law requires flags on federal office buildings to fly at half-staff on October 3 in honor of America's fallen firefighters.

The weekend ceremony concludes with the unveiling of plaques listing the names of the fallen firefighters honored this year. Plaques around the monument will now bear the names of the 2,843 firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1981, including 29 fallen firefighters from Minnesota. The state ranks 28th in the number of fallen firefighters over the past 23 years.

Local cable channels are encouraged to carry the Sunday Memorial Service and the Saturday night Candlelight Service live via satellite. For more details, see the National Fallen Firefighters web site at and more of this press release at

St. Cloud Fire Department
Line of Duty Death

Assistant Chief Don Billig

The St. Cloud Fire Department is saddened to report the line of duty death of Assistant Chief Don Billig on Monday, October 27, 2003.  Assistant Chief Billing was returning to his station after a call and, while replacing road barricades, was struck and killed by a passing motorist.

The family of Assistant Chief Billig has asked for the following arrangements for his visitation and funeral:

Visitation - Will take place at the St. Cloud Civic Center on Thursday, October 30th, from 3:00 - 9:00 PM.  The Civic Center is located at 10 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud.

Funeral - Will take place at St. Mary's Cathedral, located at 25 8th Avenue South, St. Cloud, starting at 10:00 am.  All fire service personal attending the funeral are asked to be at St. Mary's by 9:30 AM, and will be directed as to how the Honor Guard should line up.  A small procession made up of two St. Cloud Fire Department units, and the immediate family, will arrive at St. Mary's at approximately 9:45 AM.

After the Funeral Mass, the family has requested that those in attendance line up along 1st Street North.  A procession of two St. Cloud Fire Department units and a small number of Central Minnesota Mutual Aid Association units will drive past the honor guard and proceed to Assumption Cemetery for internment. Due to the large anticipated crown, the family has requested that only the immediate family and local fire departments partake in the graveside service.

Daniel Funeral Home, St. Cloud, is coordinating funeral arrangements.

The St. Cloud Fire Department is currently developing plans to accommodate those attending the visitation and/or funeral. Further information will be disseminated as arrangements are made.  Further information can also be obtained from the St. Cloud Fire Department at 320-650-3501.

Don J. Billig, 49
St. Cloud
Oct. 27, 2003

Wonderful husband, beloved father, grandfather, son, and brother. Sadly missed by family and friends.

Funeral services will be 10 AM on Friday, October 31, 2003 at St. Mary's Cathedral, St. Cloud for Don J. Billig, age 49, of St. Cloud who died on Monday, Oct. 27, 2003 as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty as a firefighter. The Rev. Al Stangl will officiate. Interment will be in Assumption Cemetery.

Friends may call between 3-9 PM on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2003 at the St. Cloud Civic Center. There will be a prayer service at 5:30 PM on Thursday at the Civic Center. Arrangements are with Daniel Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.

Don was born on April 27, 1954 in St. Cloud to Lawrence and Irene (Schnettler) Billig. He married Lou Ann Schlagheck on June 13, 1981 in Holy Spirit Catholic Church. He has been employed by the Veterans Administration Medical Center in St. Cloud for over 25 years. He has been a St. Cloud area volunteer firefighter for over 18 years serving the Township and later the City. He was currently serving as assistant chief of the volunteer division of the St. Cloud Fire Department. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 622.

He is survived by his wife Lou Ann, children: Jenny Kaeter (Darrell) of Avon, Heather Pierskalla (Mike) of Avon, Brandon of St. Cloud; grandchildren: Miranda and Tyler Kaeter; his mother Irene of St. Cloud; brothers and sisters: Lawrene Beuning (Dale) of Fort Madison, IA, Dave (Jeannette) of St. Cloud, Margo Dold (Dave) of Cold Spring.

He was preceded in death by his father Nov. 10, 1994.

Don will be remembered leaving this world doing something he loved.

© 2003 St. Cloud Times Online

Line-of-duty Death
St. Cloud FD
27 Oct 03

St Cloud Times

28 October, 2003
Firefighter killed in crash
David Unze
Staff Writer

A firefighter with the St. Cloud volunteer division died in the line of duty late Monday from injuries received in a vehicle crash near St. Augusta. Don Billig, an assistant chief in the volunteer division, was replacing a barricade blocking a construction zone when a driver struck his crew's truck, which then hit Billig, said Dennis Ballantine, St. Cloud police chief. Billig, 49, is the first St. Cloud firefighter killed in the line of duty, said Mayor John Ellenbecker. He is an 18-year veteran in the department and leaves behind a wife and three children, one of whom also works for the volunteer division, Ellenbecker said.

The driver of the pickup that hit the fire truck left his truck at the scene of the crash and fled on foot, Ballantine said. Members of several law enforcement agencies spent hours searching for the driver of the pickup that hit Billig's fire truck, which was a heavy duty pickup outfitted to fight grass fires.

He turned himself in to St. Cloud police this morning and was being held in Stearns County Jail. Ballantine identified the man as Lorin Pfannenstein, 36, of St. Cloud. He faces possible charges of hit and run, but more evidence was being sought and reviewed before a final charging decision will be made, Ballantine said.

© 2003 St. Cloud Times Online