Charles Werner reports on the ways in which the foundation answered the FDNY’s call for help following 9/11.In 1992, Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to lead a nationwide effort to honor America's fallen firefighters. The foundation plans an annual memorial...
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In the first days following 9/11, Siarnicki set up a temporary office, spent nine weeks in New York City and stayed in constant communication with both the FDNY and NFFF. While Siarnicki was coordinating the organization's involvement in New York, Ellis coordinated efforts at the National Fire Academy office in Emmitsburg, MD. Later, others helped to fill in for Siarnicki as the NFFF liaison in New York. At the time of this writing, Vinny Brennan (FDNY, retired) serves as the vital link between the NFFF and FDNY. Others that played key roles were Charlie Dickinson (FEMA/USAF), Larry Curl (IAFC), Neil Schreck (Prince George's County, MD, Fire EMS, retired), and Patrick Morrison and William MacKay (both of Fairfax County, VA, Fire/Rescue).
Each year, the NFFF holds a memorial service to honor the nation's fallen heroes. This year, NFFF Chairman Hal Bruno said, "The unprecedented number of firefighters being honored this year will necessitate our moving the memorial service from the site of the National Fallen Firefighters Monument in Emmitsburg. The loss of every firefighter is a national tragedy and this year's service will honor those who died at the World Trade Center along with those who made the ultimate sacrifice across the country."
Siarnicki advised that because the large number of attendees expected this year, the memorial service could not be accommodated in Emmitsburg, so it will be held at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., a large indoor facility that accommodates 20,000 people. He acknowledged that even this large venue may not be sufficient to seat the numbers of firefighters who may wish to attend the service, so the NFFF is exploring many options to provide satellite facilities to broadcast and provide remote viewing of the ceremony.
"There was a lot of discussion about an outdoor facility with larger seating capacity, but the weather was too unpredictable," Siarnicki said. "We want the family members of fallen firefighters to be comfortable. The MCI Center has been very accommodating to our needs by providing amenities and reducing fees to the foundation."
To assure that assigned seating is available for families of fallen firefighters, tickets will be required, but there will be no charge. No further information was available at presstime regarding the ticketing process.
Due to the size of this year's memorial service, it is projected that the costs will exceed $3 million. The foundation is looking for individual and corporate donations to help cover this year's events. Major donors for the 2002 Memorial Weekend include the Fire Chiefs' Association of Florida, W.S. Darley & Company, Munich-American Risk Partners, the U.S. Fire Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so through the donation site on the foundation's website, www.firehero.org.
The NFFF will release additional details on the memorial service and related events as soon as the plans are finalized. For more information contact the foundation at (301) 447-1365, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.firehero.org.
Among other activities, the foundation has received federal and state approval for relocation and completion of its Walk of Honor, installed new sections of inscribed bricks, expanded its website, finalized the design for a visitor information center and continued to support its scholarship programs.
Charles Werner, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 28-year veteran of the fire service and currently holds the position of deputy chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. He also serves as TechZone editor for Firehouse.com, chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Communications/Technology Advisory Group, technology chair for the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, Communications Director and webmaster for the National Fire Academy Alumni Association. Werner can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.