By Carlos Padilla
The year of 2013 was another tragic year for those in the fire service. At times, more than one firefighter member of a single family perished in a single incident. Several from West, Texas (five in all) died; 19 from the Prescott (Arizona) Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots; and a handful from other metropolitan departments perished well before their time, doing what they loved to do.
Volunteer, paid and privately-employed firefighters – serving cities, suburbs, rural communities, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, among others – comprised the overwhelmingly long list of line of duty deaths. Firefighters of all ages – some younger, some older – male and female firefighters, all dedicated to their calling, and all paying the ultimate price, were honored at ceremonies held over weekend from coast to coast.
Sierra County firefighters representing a handful of county departments – including the City of Elephant Fire Department, Lakeshore, Caballo, Arrey, and Spaceport America fire districts – gathered Saturday morning, Oct. 11, at the Elephant Butte Events Center to pay tribute to the 107 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2013. The local tribute was part of an effort held over the weekend at fire departments throughout the nation.
BELLS ACROSS AMERICA FOR FALLEN FIREFIGHTERS
Sierra County’s ceremony – part of the nationwide Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters – was held at 11 a.m., Saturday, and began with an opening prayer offered by Elephant Butte Fire Chief Rob Leavitt, flanked by fire apparatus from numerous area fire departments. Framing Chief Leavitt and the subsequent speakers were two ladders joined together and supporting Old Glory.
Three county firefighters set up the Fallen Firefighter Memorial, consisting of firefighter turnout gear, on the ground lying before the speakers. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Chief Leavitt welcomed those attending the ceremony and introduced the guests present.
Elephant Butte City Manager Alan Briley addressed the audience gathered for the ceremony, and spoke of the bravery of firefighters and First Responders, and the dedication that at times ends with firefighters paying the ultimate price.
Prior to EBFD Firefighter Robin Schumann performing “Amazing Grace” and EMS Chief Tony Candelaria reciting the closing prayer, the names of every firefighter to perish in the line of duty were read aloud.
LINE OF DUTY DEATHS
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