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Firefighter Memorial Moves to Washington

Susan Nicol
Frederick News Post

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 public remembrance.

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