Bells Across America Gaining Momentum

Bells have a storied history in the fire service.

They’ve been used to alert crews to calls, mark the start and end of a shift and announce when a firefighter has answered their final alarm.

In keeping with that tradition, bells and alarms across the nation will once again sound on Sunday, Oct. 7 as a tribute to firefighters who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The second Bells Across America coincides with the 31st annual National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service.

On Sunday, several thousand people are expected to attend the ceremony at the National Fire Academy to honor 80 firefighters killed in 2011 as well as five from previous years.

As of Monday afternoon, officials from 55 departments had indicated they were participating in Bells Across America, said Molly Natchipolsky, project coordinator.

“This isn’t just 55 departments,” she explained. “They’ve spread the word in their communities, and have enlisted participation from churches and synagogues.”

The Archdiocese of Washington will be participating as well as all departments in Baltimore County and Prince George’s County, Md.

Natchipolsky said the most moving video submitted last year showed American soldiers on a foreign base improvising by tapping on an extinguisher with a spanner wrench.

There is no specific time set for ringing a bell on Sunday. “We don’t want to impose or interrupt religious services. Anytime is fine…”

Natchipolsky said she is pleased with the response thus far. “I’m pleased. It's realling gaining momentum."

People also have another option to participate if they don’t have a bell on the shelf. “They can ring a virtual bell on Facebook.”

And, that’s not the only virtual tribute available this year from the NFFF.

You can light a virtual candle as well.

Natchipolsky said the NFFF staff understands people want to honor the fallen heroes, and these options allow them to do that. will be streaming the Candlelight Vigil on Saturday night as well as the Memorial Service on Sunday.