The 2012 California Firefighters Memorial
Uniformed firefighters, family members and dignitaries from throughout California gathered Saturday to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to protect the lives and property of Californians.
Continuing a solemn autumn tradition, the California Firefighters Memorial added the names of 40 California firefighters who fell in the line of duty. Located in historic Capitol Park, adjoining the California State Capitol in Sacramento, the Memorial carries the names of more than 1,200 firefighters who died in service since California became a state in 1850.
“When a firefighter falls in the line of duty, we come together as all families do … to grieve with each other and to remember,” said Lou Paulson, Chair of the California Fire Foundation, and president of California Professional Firefighters. “The 40 individuals whose names we add today represent the best in all of us, and we will never forget what they gave for our state and its citizens.”
Honoring Our Fallen
Seventeen firefighters who died from traumatic injuries or job-related illnesses in the past year and a half were honored on Saturday. Twenty-three others from earlier years, whose names came to the California Fire Foundation’s attention in 2012, were also added to the Memorial Wall. The moving mid-day memorial ceremony featured solemn musical performances and a special tribute to the families by John Twitchell, an Arcadia firefighter and close friend of fallen firefighter Andy Troncale.
“Regardless of their position or rank, every firefighter being remembered here today, and those whose names are already on the wall, has made a difference,” said Twitchell. “They left their mark … not only on each of us but also on the lives of many whom they never met. That is their legacy.”
The centerpiece of the annual firefighters memorial 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.
A Decade of Remembrance
The previous evening, October 19, 2012, a special candlelight tribute was held marking the 10th Anniversary of the California Firefighters Memorial. 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.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris joined hundreds of firefighters and family members in a solemn candlelight march from the steps of the Capitol to the Memorial. After laying candles at the base of the Memorial Wall, they heard reflections on the creation of the Memorial and its meaning to the families of fallen 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.