Fire service is a unique family. The bond is strong – not just between those who are out there battling fires and protecting the rest of us, but also among the families. When one passes, especially in the line of duty, it is not just an immediate family that mourns but rather an entire community. Next week, 73 firefighters who died in the line of duty during 2012 and eight firefighters who died in previous years will be honored at the 32nd National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service and 10 Pennsylvania firefighters are among them.
The Service will be held Sunday, 6 October at 10 a.m. at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. They will also be remembered the night before in a special Candlelight Service at 6:30 p.m.
The firefighters from Pennsylvania were: Corey Baker, David Flint, Christopher Good, Steven Henry, Sr., Brandon Little, Michael Martin, Robert Neary, Walter Summer, Daniel Sweeney, and David Wintz, Sr.
Deputy Chief Baker, a member of the Kenhorst Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1, fell ill after responding to a call on 27 June 2009. He passed on 6 July 2009, leaving a wife and two sons. Both sons are also firefighters. A resident of Reading, Baker was a 1984 graduate of Governor Mifflin High School.
Chief Flint of Edinboro, a member of the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department, had been reporting for mandated training drills when his vehicle was struck head on. He died on 2 February 2012 from injuries he sustained in that accident. He was a 1980 graduate of McDowell High School. Flint also served in the US Navy.
Known as “Goody”, Captain Good served the Good Will Fire Company. Captain Good grew up in the fire service and serving was indeed his life. In 2006, Captain Good began a job as a career firefighter at Arcelor Mittal Steel Plant in Coatesville.
Henry was a member of the Columbia Consolidated Fire Department. He was a fire fighter for over 30 years before serving with the Columbia Borough Special Fire Police. He left behind a wife and three adult children.
Little was a member of the United Hook & Ladder Company 33. He had just graduated New Oxford High School just two years prior. He left behind his parents and a brother.
Martin, a member of the fire brigade at PPL Susquehanna LLC, suffered a heart attack and died 27 November 2012. He had the heart attack during a training program. A resident of Hazleton, he graduated Bishop Hafey High School in 1980.
Philadelphia firefighter Robert Neary died in the line of duty during a fire at the Kensington Warehouse Fire on 9 April 2012. The fire devoured an entire city block. A fireman for 40 years, he had also served Philadelphia as a police officer. A graduate of Father Judge High School, a scholarship in his name now provides assistance to a firefighter’s family who cannot pay.
A member of the Cranesville Volunteer Fire Department, Summers was proud to serve the department and his community.
Philadelphia firefighter Sweeney also died in the Kensington Warehouse Fire on 9 April 2012. He and Neary were caught under a wall of the furniture store that had collapsed on them. Sweeney graduated Bishop McDevitt High School. He entered the Philadelphia Fire Department at the age of 19. He was also a paramedic.
A member of the Bristol Fire Company, Wintz had begun his fire fighter at the age of 16. After graduating Neshaminy High School, he served in the US Navy. He responded with his company to a three alarm fire at the Dow Chemical Plant the morning of 16 May 2012. While there he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed later that day at the hospital.
Readers can help honor these fallen heroes by holding a "Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters" event in communities across the nation.
Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich introduced yesterday a non controversial bill (HR466) which recognizes 5-6 October 2013 as “National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Weekend” in Pennsylvania. Fittingly, the National Memorial Service begins annual Fire Prevention Week.
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