Hundreds Honor Fallen Fire Fighters

95 names have been added to the Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial


Emmitsburg, Md (KM) Music was provided by a pipe and drum bang, and various singers, including Don and Dave Carroll, who sang “I’m Going Home to Emmitsburg,” as about five-thousand people gathered in Emmitsburg to honor 95 fire fighters who died in the line of duty. 75 died in 2016, and 20 lost their lives in previous years, including some New York City fire fighters who worked at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attack, and died of cancer in later years.

Many would not want to be known as heroes, but they are, according to Dennis Compton, the Chairman of the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation. “After all, fire fighters are the ones running towards danger–a burning building, a blazing wilderness  or even a car crash–while others are running away,” he told the families of the fallen.

But he also told the families that they too are heroes for supporting their fire fighters who had a passion for serving their communities. “While it meant that sometimes they would miss birthdays, holidays, piano recitals, or playoff games, you supported their commitment, their passion and their calling to serve the community,” he said.

Each family received a rose and a flag which flew over the US Capitol.

The ceremony also included an unveiling of the plaques containing the names of the 95 who died, which will be added to the National Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Emmitsburg.

One of the names on the plaques was John “Skillet” Umscheider of Clinton, who died in the line of duty on April 15th, 2016. He and other emergency workers  responded to a home in Temple Hills to check on the welfare of a man who had not been heard from in two days. They knocked on the door, and shouted loud enough to be heard. They made forced entry into the home, and the resident fired several shots at Ulmscheider. He died later at a hospital. Prince George’s County Fire and Rescue promoted him posthumously to lieutenant.

Representative Steny Hoyer, who represents the 5th District, told family members that Congress is “deeply divided” on mostly everything. “But it is united in its appreciation, its respect and in its affection for all those who are domestic defenders: our fire fighters, our EMS and our police,” he said.

Despite the 75 people who died last year, fire officials say the number of fire fighters who died in the line of duty has actually declined in recent years, sometimes from as high as in the 100’s. They credit a program called “Everyone Goes Home” which works to increase fire fighter safety while answering emergency calls.

In addition to honoring the men and women who died in the line of duty, the National Fallen Fire Fighters says it also supports departments when a line-of-duty death occurs. It assists families with filing paperwork for the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program administered by the US Department of Justice,

The Foundation also says it provides funding for research which examines coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes prevention among fire fighters and EMS.

This is the 25th anniversary of the National Fallen Fire Fighter Foundation.  Congress established the Foundation in 1992 to honor the memories of all US  fire fighters who died in the line of duty, and provide support to their loved ones.

The ceremony,  which is normally held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg,  was moved to the PNC Sports Complex at the Mount Saint Mary’s University campus due rain in the forecast.


By Kevin McManus