It’s hard to imagine the mindset of someone who runs into a building on fire when the rest of us want to run in the opposite direction. It takes a certain kind of person to put others’ well-being ahead of their own.
But that’s how firefighters respond. Even better, it’s how they react. Like their fellow public safety first responders, firefighters answer the alarm every day to help the community during some of the most trying and stressful situations one can imagine. Each time they do, they put their lives on the line. In rare instances, they don’t make it home to their loved ones.
This past weekend, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation held its annual Memorial Service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg to honor the 92 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and the 27 others who died in previous years. We are privileged here in Frederick County to be the home of the United States’ official memorial and host to this annual event that draws more than 5,000 people to pay their respects to these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
On Saturday, these firefighters were remembered at a candlelight service where a bronze plaque with the engraved name of each fallen hero was added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. On Sunday, firefighter honor guards and pipe and drum units from across the nation participated in a memorial service. Each family was presented a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol that honored each hero.
Four of those firefighters — Mitchell D. Dobbins of the Western Enterprise Fire Co.; Christopher C. Pryor of the LaVale Volunteer Fire Department; Nathan E. Flynn of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue and Daniel Lee Lister of the Queen Anne-Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Co. — died while on duty in Maryland.
Next year, the name of Michael Powers, a firefighter from the Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department who died at the scene of a car crash on Liberty Road in June, should be among those added to the memorial at the 2020 ceremony.
“The permanence of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is a constant testament to the ultimate sacrifice of our courageous fallen,” Troy Market, chairman of the NFFF board of directors, said in a press release. “Memorial Weekend’s a time for us as a nation and a fire service to pause and reflect on their sacrifice and to honor and grieve for the loss their families, friends and fellow firefighters continue to endure.”
We can never do enough for the loved ones of those died in service to the communities that they represented. If you haven’t made the trek out to academy in Emmitsburg, we urge you to do so. It’s a humbling experience. It’s important to keep their memories alive by paying tribute to their service.
That’s the least we owe these heroes.