Emmitsburg, MD – Each October, a grateful nation honors its fallen fire heroes during the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. Rich in fire service tradition, the Memorial Weekend celebrates how these brave men and women lived, and honors their dedication to service and their ultimate sacrifice. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) is planning and coordinating the National Memorial Weekend in Washington, D.C. The weekend is a fitting tribute to the firefighter heroes who died in 2001, and a celebration of the heroism and courage of the fire service.
This year’s Memorial Weekend was moved from its usual location at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the campus of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD to Washington, in order to accommodate the large crowds expected.
A total of 446 firefighters will be honored. Among them are the 347 firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 95 firefighters who died in 34 states throughout 2001, and 4 firefighters who died in previous years.
“We honor the dead by caring for the living,” said Hal Bruno, Chairman of the NFFF Board of Directors. “This will be the greatest tribute ever paid to the fire service and we want the families to be proud; our charge is to make sure every firefighter’s family knows that we are a grateful nation.”
The Memorial Weekend events include welcome receptions, Family Day activities, the Red Helmets Motorcycle Ride, a Candlelight Service, and the Procession of Honor. The weekend culminates with the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on October 6th at the MCI Center, the largest indoor arena in the vicinity.
Media representatives must register in advance. Contact Jeffrey Richardson at 202-955-1247 for registration. The following information contains event descriptions, logistics and other relevant information.
To support the NFFF, and its efforts to pay for all expenses for family members of fallen firefighters, visit www.firehero.org for donation information.
WELCOME RECEPTIONS (BY INVITATION ONLY)
- WHO: Family, friends, and colleagues of fallen firefighters being honored this year.
- WHAT: Two welcome receptions, one at each family hotel.
- WHEN: Friday, October 4, 2002, 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm.
- WHERE: Downtown Washington, D.C.
- ACCESS: Limited media access with credentials; interviews only upon request. General public does not have access to these receptions.
FAMILY COUNSELING SESSIONS
- WHO: Surviving family members of fallen firefighters only.
- WHAT: Family members will join one another to share their experiences coping with the loss of a loved one. Trained grief counselors will lead the sessions.
During the Opening Session, family members will learn more about the Weekend and hear from some returning family members about resources available through the Foundation year round.
While adults attend the Opening Session, children will take part in a special art activity. Fire service clowns and other adults will help them decorate tributes to each of the 446 fallen firefighters. These tributes will be used during the Saturday evening Candlelight Service and each family will be given these handcrafted tributes in memory of their loved one.
In the afternoon, small groups will be set up based upon relationships to the fallen firefighters, so fathers meet with fathers, spouses with spouses, etc. There will also be groups and activities provided for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school age children, and for young adults.
- WHEN: October 5, 2002, 10:30 am until 4:00 pm.
- WHERE: Downtown Washington, D.C.
- ACCESS: Limited media access with credentials; interviews only upon request. General public does not have access to these sessions.
RED HELMETS MOTORCYCLE RIDE
- WHO: An estimated 5,000 motorcycle riders will participate. Dignitaries will deliver remarks before the Ride leaves the Pentagon. All motorcycle riders are invited to attend.
- WHAT: The Red Helmets Motorcycle Ride is an annual tribute to fallen firefighters. The Ride will begin after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon’s North Parking Lot. Riders will leave the parking lot and pass a family hotel. A second wreath will be placed at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at the end of the ride. More information is
available at www.redhelmetsmcride.org.
- WHEN: October 5, 2002, beginning at 11:00 am and ending at approximately 12:30 pm. Riders are encouraged to be in the Pentagon North Parking Lot at 10:00 am.
- WHERE: The Ride begins at the Pentagon’s North Parking Lot and concludes at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial located on E Street, NW between 4th and 5th Streets, in downtown Washington, D.C.
- ACCESS: Credentialed media are encouraged to attend all phases. The general public should gather at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to watch the procession.
- WHO: Survivors, family, friends, and colleagues of fallen firefighters. Nationally-recognized speakers to deliver remarks.
- WHAT: The service will feature musical selections by members of the fire service and survivors of fallen firefighters. Fire service honor guard members will light special luminary tributes. A video featuring each honored hero will be shown. As part of the ceremony, survivors will light the Remembrance Candle, a symbol of the hope and enduring friendship shared by all who have lost a beloved firefighter in the line of duty.
- WHEN: October 5, 2002, Doors open at 5:00 pm. The ceremony begins at 7:00 pm.
- WHERE: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C.
- ACCESS: Credentialed media are encouraged to attend. A media center will be located at the East entrance of the event venue. There will be reserved seating for the families of the firefighters being honored at this year’s Memorial, for survivors of firefighters honored in previous years, and for members of the departments of the fallen firefighters. A large screen viewing area for the general public will be located on the grounds of Catholic University directly adjacent to the event venue.
PROCESSION OF HONOR
- WHO: Surviving family members of fallen firefighters. Fire service personnel from around the world.
- WHAT: In a visual show of support, an unprecedented number of honor guard units and bagpipe bands will lead a procession to the MCI Center, site of the National Memorial Service. Firefighters from across the world will form a “Sea of Blue” along the route as buses carrying the families of the fallen firefighters pass by. Uniformed firefighters from the departments of those being honored will follow the buses. Fire apparatus will form ladder arches with the American Flag hung from the cross sections.
Fire service personnel along the streets will remain in place until the last unit in the procession passes. Then they will be directed to the MCI Center and the Navy Memorial where they will be able to watch the program on large Jumbotron screens.
- WHEN: October 6, 2002, 11:00 am.
- WHERE: The Procession of Honor will stage on Constitution Avenue between 14th Street and 10th Street. Constitution Avenue from 10th Street to 7th Street and all of 7th Street up to the MCI Center will be lined with uniformed firefighters from around the world who will form a “Sea of Blue” through which the Procession of Honor will pass.
Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th Street and 7th Street will be used as an assembly area for the thousands of fire service members who will be in attendance for this event. This area will serve as both a pre- and post-gathering point for the Procession of Honor that will begin on Constitution Avenue and 10th Street. Following the National Tribute, a reception will be held in this area for all event participants. Light refreshments will be provided. Alcoholic beverages will not be served.
During the National Tribute, it is anticipated that 6th Street between F Street and G Street, along with 7th Street between F Street and G Street and F Street between 6th Street and 7th Street will be used as a mass gathering area for overflow attendance at the event. For this venue, it is expected that the MCI Center will be filled to capacity. To accommodate the thousands of fire service members who wish to view the National Tribute, the Foundation will provide Jumbotron Screens in this area. When the program ends these individuals will return to Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Family Procession of Honor:
- Families of fallen firefighters being honored this year.
- Registered Honor Guard Units.
- Bag Pipe Units from around the world.
- Uniformed fire service personnel from departments that have a fallen firefighter being honored.
Staging Area for Procession of Honor Participants:
- Participants from departments that have a fallen firefighter being honored or are a registered honor guard or bagpipe member will report to the line-up area on Constitution Avenue and 14th Street NW. Members of the fire service driving in for the day should report directly to RFK Stadium. Parking for buses and cars will be available at $5 per car or $20 per bus.
The Sea of Blue:
- Active members of the fire service, as well as ladies’ auxiliary members, retirees, and department-related scout members will line along the streets along which the Procession will pass.
Staging Area for Sea of Blue Participants:
- All fire service personnel planning to take part in the Sea of Blue must stage at RFK Stadium. The lot will open at 6:00 am. Members of the fire service driving in for the day should report directly to RFK Stadium. Parking for buses and cars will be available at $5 per car or $20 per bus. Individuals staying in the DC-area are being encouraged to take Metro (subway) to get to RFK and back to the downtown area.
Sea of Blue Activities:
- All fire service personnel who are not part of the Family Procession are invited to line both sides of Constitution Avenue from 10th Street to 7th Street and 7th Street to the MCI Center forming a Sea of Blue. This promises to be the largest show of respect and unity in the history of this Nation’s fire service.
The order of the Sea of Blue will be determined at the Staging Area at RFK Stadium so all fire service personnel planning to participate must report there. The Sea of Blue will extend approximately 10 blocks, lining both sides of the street, shoulder-to-shoulder, and facing toward the street.
The Procession of Honor led by the families will pass through the Sea of Blue on its way to the Memorial Service at the MCI Center. Other units in the procession will march behind the family buses. Sea of Blue participants will remain in place until the last group in the family procession has passed by. Immediately following the Procession of Honor, Fire Service personnel will be directed to the MCI Center and the Navy Memorial where they can assemble to view the 1 pm Memorial Service on large, outdoor television screens (Jumbotrons). A large hosted reception at the Navy Memorial will follow the Memorial Service.
NATIONAL FALLEN FIREFIGHTERS MEMORIAL SERVICE
- WHO: Family, friends and comrades of fallen firefighters, Fire service personnel from across the country and world Nationally-recognized speakers.
- WHAT: A grateful Nation will honor its fallen fire heroes at the official National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday, October 6. This year’s tribute will take place in the MCI Center, Washington, D.C.’s largest indoor arena.
The special service will remember the 442 men and women from 34 states who died in the line of duty in 2001. This includes the 347 firefighters who died in the World Trade Center tragedy. Four firefighters who died in previous years will also be honored.
The ceremony, rich in fire service traditions, will begin with an honor guard and bag piper salute. Video and musical tributes will celebrate the lives of these special men and women who died in service to their communities. The ceremony will include the unveiling of the memorial plaques listing the names of the fallen heroes. The plaques will be placed permanently at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
- WHEN: October 6, 2002, 1:00 pm.
- WHERE: MCI Center, 601 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
Viewing areas located outside the MCI Center (above) and the Navy Memorial.
The Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
- ACCESS: Credentialed news media are encouraged to attend this event. Only ticketed participants will be allowed inside the MCI Center. Media vehicles must enter south down 6th Street, NW or west from G Street, NW to park. The media entrance to the MCI Center is adjacent to the parking area. A media registration table will be easily accessible.
Large screen viewing areas will be located in the F Street Corridor and at the Navy Memorial. All crowds will be diverted to the Navy Memorial once F Street reaches capacity.
- IMPORTANT: Selected families of fallen firefighters will be available for interviews in the media center in the MCI Center before and after the event. Interviews must be pre-arranged. NFFF representatives will be available for interviews at that time as well.