Berthoud Fire Protection District, along with fire stations and government buildings across the state, lowered their U.S. and state flags to half-mast Sunday in observance of the 28th annual National Firefighters Memorial Service. A moment of silence was taken by those on duty at both Berthoud Fire stations, honoring their brothers and sisters who died in the line of duty.
This year’s memorial service honored four Colorado firefighters who died in 2008. The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is located on the National Fire Academy campus in Emmitsburg, Md.
A plaque with the names of 103 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2008 will be added to the memorial. The memorial, established in 1981, is surrounded with plaques containing the names of more than 3,300 firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
Colorado firefighters being honored are: Captain Shane Stewart, age 33, of the Ault-Pierce Fire Protection District who died in a fire truck rollover accident while responding to an emergency medical call on Feb. 23, 2008; Fire Chief Terry DeVore, age 30, and Firefighter John Swartz, age 38, of the Olney Springs Volunteer Fire Department, who died in a fire truck accident due to a bridge collapse in heavy smoke conditions at a wildland fire on April 15, 2008.; and Pilot Gert Marias, age 42, of Aero Seat (Colorado State Forest Service Contractor) died in a single engine air tanker crash following a slurry drop onto the Fort Carson wildland fire on April 15, 2008.
An overview of the 118 firefighters that died while on duty in 2008:
- The total breakdown included 66 volunteer, 34 career and 18 wildland agency firefighters.
- 25 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass or wildland firefighting, more than twice the number killed the previous year.
- 28 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
- 21 firefighters died while responding to, and 3 while returning from, emergency incidents.
- 13 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.
- Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2008 with 45 firefighter deaths.
- During 2008, 103 firefighters died in the line of duty, making firefighting one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations.
Year-to-date monthly and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted on the USFA’s Web site at http://www.USFA.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff stats.shtm.