Rebuilding Our Memorial to the Fallen
The hallowed grounds of the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial are a place where thousands gather every September to celebrate and honor the lives of IAFF members who have died in the line of duty during the past year. Hundreds more make private pilgrimages throughout the year.
"This memorial is very important to our members, the families of the fallen and to this union," says General President Harold Schaitberger.
Therefore, to ensure the integrity of the site remains intact for future generations of fire fighters and their families, the IAFF will be putting forth a resolution at the 2014 Convention for reconstructing the entire Memorial site.
"We owe it to our members and the families to make sure the names of the fallen are never forgotten," says Schaitberger.
An important element of the proposed rebuild is to preserve the current names and provide additional space to add names.
Since the granite walls were erected in 1989 and in 2002, more than 2,800 names of fallen members have been etched. Currently, the Memorial includes the names of the fallen since 1976. Local by local, the IAFF has researched every member killed in the line of duty since 1918 through to 1975, and those names (3,469 members) would be added to the new Memorial under the proposed plan.
The plan also calls for additional seating to accommodate the families of the fallen during the annual Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial observance each September. Currently, the area seats 2,500. Attendance is typically 5,000, but reached 10,000 in 2002 after 347 IAFF members made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.
The IAFF has called on Colorado urban landscape and architecture design firm Thomas and Thomas to develop a plan to rebuild the site to meet current needs, as well as provide for expansion.
Thomas and Thomas has assessed the land and environmental factors, considered the need to preserve the statue and other elements and presented several proposals of varying levels of change.
The proposed plans include overarching themes of family, honor, pride and community. In addition, the entry would be more prominent and include more prestigious signage and landscaping to emphasize the park's integrity.
The goal is for members and families to feel they are honoring the fallen the minute they arrive at the Memorial.
Additionally, the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial would be reconfigured with Pikes Peak as the backdrop so families face the statue of a fire fighter descending a ladder holding a child. The shift would also allow the space to accommodate more than 5,000 seats.
The proposals also call for new granite walls of varying sizes and heights to be raised in arcs around the main statue, and include all of the names etched in previous years with room for a total of 11,500.
The IAFF estimates it would take up to 30 more years before these walls are filled. The former honor walls would then be repurposed for special paving to be known as the Family Ring to symbolize and embrace the families during the annual observance.
The final element is the Guardians–statues sculpted as Honor Guard members. These statues are designed to stand in the periphery as quiet overseers of guests and honorees. "The new Memorial would, as it always has, belong to the IAFF membership," says Schaitberger.
The IAFF estimates the cost to complete the project at $3.5 million.
If approved by delegates at Convention, the rebuild would begin immediately following the September 2014 service and be completed in time for the September 2015 observance.
The Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial is a permanent remembrance of the courageous fire fighters and emergency medical personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. By ensuring these brave men and women are never forgotten, the Memorial provides support to the families of these heroes who gave their lives in service to others.
The Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, one of the funds within the IAFF Charitable Foundation, was founded in 1976 and the first granite walls were erected in 1989. An annual Memorial observance is held each year in September in Colorado Springs, Colorado.