Governor Jerry Brown joined uniformed firefighters, family members and dignitaries from throughout California, who gathered on the grounds of the California State Capitol Saturday (October 5) in a solemn tribute to those who have given their lives to protect the state and its citizens.
In a midday ceremony steeped in fire service tradition, California Firefighters Memorial added the names of 22 California firefighters who fell in the line of duty. The Memorial, located in the heart of Sacramento’s Capitol Park, carries the names of more than 1,250 firefighters who died in service since California became a state in 1850.
“On this solemn occasion, we’re reminded of what it takes to keep our communities safe,” said Governor Brown. “These 22 firefighters truly exemplify the meaning of service.”
“Through this memorial, 22 more names are timelessly etched on these walls in the shadow of the Capitol of this great state,” said Lou Paulson, chair of the California Fire Foundation and president of California Professional Firefighters. “They will forever be bathed in the glory of a life of duty, honor courage and sacrifice.”
The Saturday ceremony, conducted by the California Fire Foundation, honored eighteen firefighters who died from traumatic injuries or job-related illnesses in the past year and a half. Four others from earlier years, whose names came to the California Fire Foundation’s attention in 2013, were also added to the Memorial Wall.
The most recent California firefighter to fall in the line of duty, CAL FIRE Engineer Christopher Douglas, was struck by a vehicle and fatally injured July 5th while responding to a traffic accident. Douglas’ friend and battalion chief Mark Williams paid tribute to his fallen friend, and to the families of those whose loved ones have paid the ultimate price.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of Christopher, and I know it is the same for each of you,” Williams told the families. “Because of this beautiful memorial, these special people will always be remembered and honored for what they gave.”
The centerpiece of the ceremony is the presentation of flags to the families, friends and representatives of every one of the individuals being honored. The tribute also features a solemn uniformed firefighter procession and the traditional “Last Alarm” ceremony, in which a fire bell is rung to signify a fallen firefighter’s final call to duty.
Unveiled in April of 2002, the California Firefighters Memorial features two stunning statues and a dramatic Memorial Wall on which the names of 1,246 fallen firefighters are engraved. The Memorial was created without any state funding through private contributions to the California Fire Foundation, most of them directly from firefighters.
The California Fire Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created by California Professional Firefighters in 1987 whose mandate includes 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.