Thousands Honor Fallen Fighters

102 names were added Sunday  to the Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial.


Emmitsburg, Md (KM). There were plenty of pipes and drums played on Sunday, along with other music, as an estimated 5,000 people gathered in Emmitsburg on Sunday for the National Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial Service. 80 fire fighters who died in the line of duty in 2017 were honored, along with 23 from previous years. Their names were etched on the Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial at the National Fire Academy.

The Chairman of the Board of the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation, Chief Dennis Compton, says many fire fighters feel uncomfortable about being called heroes, noting that what they do is part of their jobs. But Compton says they are heroes. “I think that’s because many people identify characteristics and actions like commitment, pride, courage and compassion to describe a hero,:” he said. “And after all, who else besides the hero responds to a stranger’s call for help asking for nothing in return.”

Also speaking to the audience was 5th District Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md), who said the families of fallen fire fighters continue to feel the pain from that loss for a long time. “Which it’s all the more important that communities are there for the families of the fallen, not only after tragedy strikes, but year after year after year,” he said.

Hoyer also said he is a supporter of the Fire Grant and SAFER programs which help fire fighters stay safe on the fire lines.

Among the 80 fire fighters who died in the line of duty last year are Deputy Chief Sander Benjamin  Cohen, 33, from the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal. He was struck and killed by a vehicle in December 9th, 2017, after assisting at the scene of a previous crash involving an off duty FBI agent.

Firefighter Charles “Rick” Gentlecore, 52, with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, who died on April 7th, 2017, after he was found unresponsive at the station during his shift, which involved multiple emergency responses, was also added to the Memorial. .

One of those fire fighters who died in previous years was Christopher Allen Staley, 22, of the Cobb Island Volunteer Fire and EMS. He passed away on August 9th, 2011, while trying to rescue a drowning victim.

Each of the families of the fallen received an American Flag, a red rose and a badge honoring their fire fighters’ sacrifices.

But not all fire fighter line of duty deaths are sudden, according to Jim Pauley with the National Fire Protection Association. He noted a number of fire and rescue personnel who worked in New York on 9-11 died years later from cancer. “The cumulative affect of the environment that fire fighters face on a daily basis is just as dangerous as working on a busy highway, crawling down a smoke-charged hallway or cutting lines in a burning forest,” he said

Pauley said addressing these deaths is “paramount.”



By Kevin McManus