The 21St annual service honoring the
nation's fallen firefighters will not be held on the grounds
of the National Fire Academy this October.
The ceremonies have been moved to the
MCI Center in Washington, because of the increased number of
firefighters killed in 2001. The U.S. Fire Administration (USIFA)
figures Show 441 firefighters died in the line of duty last
year, including 343 killed in the World Trade Center terrorist
attack on Sept. 11.
The annual ceremony honors
firefighters killed the previous year. "This is a
one-year move away from Emmitsburg and the National Fire
Academy," said Ron Siarnicid president of the National
Fallen' Firefighters Foundation. Mr. Siarnicki said after the
events of last September, it was clear the National Fallen
Firefighters Memorial campus could not accommodate the 20,000
or more people expected to attend.
The USFA reported that the loss in
2001 was "a tragic year for American's fire
service." More firefighters were lost in the World Trade
Center than during any other previous incident. Mr. Siarnicki
has invited President Bush, and hopes he accepts the
invitation as he did last year. Traditionally, the weekend for
families and friends of the firefighters consists of grief
sessions, a candlelight service, a chapel service and the
Mr Siarnicki said the foundation is
working to ensure that the fami- lies of all fallen
firefighters receive proper attention and care. "We need
more than 1,000 hotel rooms for many nights.
If we were planning for Emmitsburg, we
would have families (in hotels) from Gettysburg (Fla.) to
Rockville," he said, adding that an important part of the
weekend is having the fami-, lies together. In addition to the
families, fire and rescue personnel and honor guards from
across the nation attend the annual ceremony. "We're
obviously still working out many details," he said.
"We have a number of committees set up. There are a lot
of logistics to work out."
Members of the Frederick County
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, who usually host the
families on Friday night for a pizza party, say they hope to
participate. "We're still planning to do something. We
may be helping with transportation or a reception," he
said. "We will be involved somehow. Mr. Siarnicki said
the foundation, which pays for transportation and lodging for
the families of the fallen firefighters, has received, many
donations. "We also help them with costs associated with
their visit," he said.
In a few weeks, he said he is, going
to Florida to accept a $1 million donation from the Florida
Fire, and Emergency Services Foundation and the Foundation of
the Florida Fire Chiefs Association. Mr. Siarnicki said many
departments across the country have adopted the families of
fallen firefighters, and helped them with travel expenses.
Congress created the non-profit
Foundation in 1992 to honor America's fallen fire service
heroes and to assist their survivors in rebuilding their
lives. For further information on the Foundation and its
programs, please visit our web site at www.firehero.org.