June 01--As the Maryland flag swung high above a ladder truck at the Maryland Fire-Rescue Services Memorial in Annapolis on Sunday, families and colleagues of four fallen heroes walked forward to tearfully pay their respects.
Gene Kirchner, David Barr Jr., James "Doc" Brooks, George Linnell.
All died in the line of duty. All had their names added to the memorial wall on Calvert Street, joining more than 400 other fire and rescue personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
"They will always be remembered in a special way, never to be forgotten," said Gene Worthington, president of the Maryland Fire-Rescue Services Memorial Foundation.
Barr, a 64-year-old fire police captain for the Community Fire Company of Perryville in Cecil County, was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic at an accident scene last October. He died from his injuries more than two weeks later.
After the ceremony Sunday, Barr's daughter-in-law, Rachel Barr, described him as a man who would go out of his way to help others. While his death has been difficult on the family, having his name added to the wall is an honor.
"It feels like his memory is still alive," Rachel Barr said.
Kirchner, a 25-year-old firefighter and paramedic for the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company in Baltimore County, died while fighting a house fire last spring.
Kirchner was a "fun-loving guy" who loved to serve the community, joining the company as a junior member when he was 14 years old, said Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company Chief Robert Murray.
"It's one thing to lose a firefighter when they're old, but when they're very young it's even more difficult," Murray said.
Brooks, a 62-year-old firefighter with Prince George's Volunteer Marine Fire Rescue, suffered a medical emergency on Jan. 6 while winterizing boats for the coming record-low temperatures. Brooks was able to call 911, but was found a short time later in cardiac arrest. He died more than a week later.
In announcing Brooks' death, Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor described the man as a friend and colleague, calling his passing a "dark time" for the department.
Linnell, a 56-year-old member of the Landover Hills Volunteer Fire Department, died in 2007 from a pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease he contracted from inhaling combustion particles on the job. He was remembered Sunday for his enthusiasm and zest for life.
Next year will the be the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the memorial and emergency officials already know of two firefighters who have died recently in the line of duty.
Baltimore County firefighter Robert Fogel III, 58, collapsed during a training exercise Friday and was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, where he died of cardiac arrest.
Also on Friday, Naval District Washington Fire and Emergency Services Battalion Chief John McDonald, 54, died while on duty at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. Additional information on McDonald's death wasn't immediately available.
"Tragically we already have two guys who will probably be going on the wall next year," said Annapolis Fire Department spokesman Matt Tobia. "We'll hope and pray we don't have any more."
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