It includes 24 NY City fire fighters who died from 9/11-associated illnesses.
Emmitsburg, Md (KM) Families of 112 fire fighters who lost their lives in the line of duty gathered Sunday at the National Fire Academy campus in Emmitsburg to remember their loved ones. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner was on hand to welcome them. She said their loved ones will not be forgotten. “You, their family members, will also not be forgotten. You are etched into the hearts of our community. You are a part of our family, and you will always have a place here in Frederick to call home,” she said.
Even though the number of fire fighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice seems high, the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation says the 112 includes 79 who died last year, and 24 New York City fire fighters who died from illnesses they contracted while working among toxins at the World Trade Center site on September 11th, 2001, and that includes cancer Two died last year, and 22 passed away before 2015.
“The Federal Government conducted a thorough review to ensure that deaths related to 9/11 illnesses can be recognized as line-of-duty deaths, and the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation is very pleased with this decision,” says Chief Dennis Compton, the Chairman of the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation Board of Directors, in a statement.
Compton, who also spoke at Sunday’s ceremony, called the 112 fire fighters being honored “heroes,” even though many feel uncomfortable with that label. “Remember that fire fighters don’t become heroes because they died in the line of duty,” he told the families. “They became heroes the day they signed up to be a fire fighter. And you the survivors are their heroes because you support their desire to serve.”
FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate said when the alarm goes off, the fire fighters who respond don’t often think that this could be their last call. “We know we have our training. We know we have each other. We never think about what could go wrong. We’re always focused on the job,” he said.
US Fire Administrator Ernest Brown said the fire service is working hard to bring down the number of fire fighter deaths. “The fire service remains committed to prevention and safety outreach programs for all Americans,” he said. “We commit to our unified efforts to prevent losses, eliminate preventable fire fighter deaths and injuries, and improve fire fighter health and safety.”
But the speakers also urged the families of fallen fire fighters to reach out to the Foundation for assistance.
As part of the ceremony, each family was given a badge, a flag which flew over the US Capitol and a red rose.
The names of the fallen were etched on a bronze plaque which was added to the National Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial.
The annual ceremony to honor the fallen was begun in 1981. Chief Compton told the audience that a memorial for the fire fighters who died before 1981 is being constructed on the National Fire Academy Campus.
By Kevin McManus