There are many traditions in the fire service that do not translate to video conferencing. Memorial services, with their time-honored expressions of grief, is one of these traditions not meant for a digital gathering.
As in past years, the first weekend in October has always been reserved to honor the nation’s fallen firefighters who died in the line of duty the previous year, at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This year, due to the global pandemic, an in-person event is not possible. In these unprecedented times, we want to ensure the safety of families, the fire service, program participants, and the public.
After much deliberation, this year’s National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is being postponed until 2021. We had to find another way for this year, in a safe format, to honor the 103 fallen firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice, and to ensure the families know that they are not alone in their grief.
On Sunday, October 4, at 10:00 am EDT, the lives of 82 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 21 firefighters who died in previous years will be remembered in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s production of America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters. This 45-minute special will be available to watch on www.firehero.org and through the NFFF’s social media platforms.
“We invest the better part of a year planning for the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. We will not let COVID-19 stop us from honoring our nation’s fallen, paying our respects for their sacrifices, and letting their loved one’s know we are here to support them,” said Chief Ronald Siarnicki, Executive Director of the NFFF. The Tribute reflects the wishes of Fire Hero Families to honor their firefighters but is not a replacement for the National Memorial. “We will come together, in person, to reflect on and honor the sacrifice of your loved one when it is safe to do so,” said Troy Markel, Chairman of the Board of the NFFF.
While the Tribute was developed with Fire Hero Families in mind, we encourage everyone to watch. We also invite you to take a moment to read our 2020 Roll of Honor, a collection of stories about our fire heroes, as submitted by their families, friends and fellow firefighters. In learning more about our fallen heroes, we can begin to grasp the void their loss leaves in the lives of those they have left behind.
Joining our Chairman of the Board, Troy Markel, in America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters will be Fire Hero Families, the U.S. Fire Administrator, and national fire service leaders who will share messages of support and remembrance. Some of our nation’s well-known personalities also join along with regular citizens to share their thanks for the work firefighters do every day for our communities.
On the evening of October 3rd, as dusk turns to dark, landmarks, buildings, bridges, fire stations, and homes across the country will light up in “red” to honor America’s fallen firefighters as part of the Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters program. On October 4th, America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters begins with bells ringing across the country in honor of our fallen firefighters through our Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters program. For more information on how you can take part in these programs, visit www.firehero.org.
It is a long-standing tradition in the fire service to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities. We urge everyone to join us as we pay America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters.
- Adapt, Improvise, Overcome – Honoring Fire Heroes in the Time of Covid
- Ring Out in Support for Fallen Firefighters and Their Families
- Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters to Shine Bright in 2020
- 2020 National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend Update
- The NFFF is Working Closely with its Partners to Make a Determination on the 2020 Memorial Weekend