EMMITSBURG, Md. – Preparations for the annual National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend are now at warp speed as staff and volunteers plan for the possibility of being blocked from campus if the federal government is shut down.
“Regardless of what happens, we will have a memorial service this weekend. We will make it happen,” explained Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
On Monday morning, a recruit class from Anne Arundel County loaded boxes of supplies, candles and other items from the NFFF office onto a truck.
The staff is relocating its headquarters to the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company for the week.
Their contingency plan for Mother Nature now has a contingency plan for the pending shutdown. Negotiations have been in the works for more than a week, and the movement has ramped up the past few days.
If the federal campus is closed, families will be barred from seeing their fallen firefighter memorial and the plaque bearing their loved one’s name. Also, the volunteers who normally stay in the dorms will be out.
Should that happen, escorts, honor guard members and pipe and drum corps participants will be housed at Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.
The Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg also has stepped up to the plate and offered to feed honor guard members Friday night and on Saturday.
As the recruits and staff members dismantled decorations in the chapel, others were meeting on a myriad of issues including how and where to prepare and serve meals.
Right now, the candlelight service is set for the Basilica, while the memorial service will be moving to Mount St. Mary’s University.
The ceremony last year was held at the local university due to inclement weather.
This is usually crunch time for organizers, but this year it has taken on a new pace.