CAPE MAY- The 31st National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service will honor 80 firefighters who died in 2011 and five firefighters who died in previous years during the official national service on Oct 7 at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Locally, Cape May Fire Department will sound its horn Oct. 7 at noon, according to Richard Lundholm, deputy fire chief. The event is the 2nd annual Bells Across America.
He said fire departments are asked to sound their siren and churches to ring their bells at noon in memory of fallen firefighters from the past year.
Lundholm said the department would recognize Cape May Firefighter Lt. Andy Boyt. He died suddenly Oct. 3, 2011 returning from a gymnasium.
Boyt was a firefighter/EMT for more than 20 years. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter and became a full time firefighter in 1999. In 2006, Boyt was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant where he served as the department's Health and Safety Officer.
“We’re doing it for Andy and invite any department that would like to do it in his honor and all the other 85 members that are being recognized in Emmitsburg,” said Lundholm.
He said Cape May Fire Department will send representatives to Emmitsburg.
Flags will also be lowered to half-staff including the White House and U.S Capitol.
According to the Bells Across America website: “the sound of a bell holds special significance for firefighters. Historically, the toll of a bell summoned members to the station, signaled the beginning of a shift, notified departments of a call for help, and indicated a call was completed and the unit had returned to the station.
Departments sounded a series of bells when a firefighter died in the line of duty to alert all members that a comrade had made the ultimate sacrifice. This time-honored tradition continues today during the funerals or memorial services for firefighters.”
Nearly 100 fire departments participated in the first Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters in 2011.
In Emmitsburg, bronze plaques containing the names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, located on the academy campus. The plaques surrounding the memorial, which was established in 1981, list the names of more than 3,600 firefighters. The national tribute is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Fire Administration.
Thirty-one states and the Territory of Guam experienced line-of-duty deaths in 2011. Two other states have firefighters who died in previous years being honored. North Carolina and Texas had the nation's greatest number of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in 2011 with 6 in each state, followed by Pennsylvania with 5.
These deaths resulted from apparatus or vehicle accidents, heart attacks, natural disaster response, falling, drowning, building collapses, explosion, and burns/smoke inhalation, according to National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.