(SACRAMENTO) In a solemn remembrance echoing centuries of firehouse tradition, uniformed firefighters, family members and grateful citizens gathered in the heart of California’s capital Saturday, paying tribute to those who paid the ultimate price.
The California Firefighters Memorial Ceremony, held Saturday, July 30, 2022, recognized 82 California firefighters who have died in the line of duty over the past three years. Their names were added to what is now more than 1,500 inscribed on the brushed limestone wall of the California Firefighters Memorial in in Sacramento’s Capitol Park, recognizing California firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1850.
“Today, we recognize 82 of California’s finest: men and women who heard the call to duty and answered, knowing the risks they were taking,” said Brian K. Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters and chair of the California Fire Foundation “Their commitment lives on, inscribed forever in the company of their fallen brothers and sisters, all of whom made the ultimate sacrifice to keep California safe.”
The evening ceremony, held at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento, was the first in-person commemoration of California’s fallen firefighters since 2019. The annual ceremony was not held in 2020 and 2021, because of the covid-19 pandemic. California flags were presented to family members and representatives of the 82 honorees. The ceremony also featured the traditional ringing of the “Last Alarm” and tributes from firefighters and dignitaries alike.
“Strength, courage, compassion and unwavering dedication to duty: These are but some of the qualities epitomized by every California firefighter,” said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “On this special day, and every day, we honor their sacrifice and commitment to safeguard our communities, and live in remembrance of our heroes who have fallen.”
Among those being honored are two firefighters who were murdered while doing their duty – Tory Carlon of Los Angeles Co. Fire and Mas Fortuna of Stockton Fire – as well as tow Porterville firefighters who died battling the Porterville Library Fire. The list also recognizes the sad toll of job-related illness: 39 of the 82 individuals being added to the Memorial died from job-related cancer.
Unveiled in April of 2002, the California Firefighters Memorial features two stunning statues and a dramatic Memorial Wall on which the names of nearly 1,400 fallen firefighters are now engraved. The Memorial was created without any state funding through private contributions to the California Fire Foundation, most of them directly from firefighters.
The annual ceremony is conducted by the California Fire Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization created by California Professional Firefighters in 1987. The Foundation’s mission is to aid fallen firefighter families and the communities they protect through an array of public education and victim assistance projects. California Professional Firefighters (CPF) represents 30,000 career firefighters and paramedics. It has over 170 affiliated local unions, and is the State Council for the International Association of Fire Fighters.