National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service to Honor 226

April 9, 2024
The number of firefighters to be recognized next month for giving the ultimate sacrifice is one of the largest ever.

EMMITSBURG, MD – In less than a month, thousands will gather here for the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.

The number of firefighters to be honored at the May 5 service – 226 – is one of the highest ever.

Some of the personnel who will be recognized for giving the ultimate sacrifice include those who perished during or after incidents, firefighters killed in vehicle crashes as well as those stricken by illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, cancer and COVID.

On May 5, the campus of the National Fire Academy – where the National Fallen Firefighter Monument is located – will be packed with families, fellow firefighters, friends, and the public.

They will have an experience like no other. They will hear bagpipers, watch about hundreds uniformed personnel from departments all over the country march and salute their loved one.

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure the dignified event goes off without a hitch.

Throughout the year, volunteers have taken on various tasks to make sure the needs of their guests are handled.

As of Monday, 1,015 people have officially registered with the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. Whether the family has 30 members coming or attending solo, event planners say they are ready.

Chief Ron Kanterman, the incident commander, learned from the division leaders everything from the number of wheelchairs and cases of water ordered to placement of canteens, parking for special guests and contingency plans in case there’s inclement weather.

Kanterman noted that there are no rooms available on campus. All have been reserved.

“Just a heads up. If we get a call from a firefighter who’s coming to honor someone from their department, you may have to make other arrangements,” he warned.

As this year’s service is the largest since the one held after COVID, seating and movements around the area are being modified.

“The dedication of these people never ceases to amaze me. They are taking time off, paying their own way and other expenses to do this. It’s awesome,” said Victor Stagnaro, NFFF chief executive officer.

With 137 new members of the pipe and drum corps, a workshop will be held.

“We’ll go over the movements and things like that. It’s important because some may not be familiar,” said Toby Martin, a former honor guard branch director adding that the pipers and drummers come from all over the country.

Kanterman thanked the group for their tireless efforts. Stepping up to get things done and working as a team are what it’s all about. It just doesn’t work without it.

“As Ron (Siarnicki) would say: ‘Nobody gets a pass.’”

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