Fire Service Foundation Searches for Fallen Firefighters' Family Members
On Sept. 30, a new memorial will be unveiled on the grounds of the State Capitol to remember Minnesota firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
When it is complete, the names of the 206 firefighters killed serving our state since 1881 will be engraved on columns at the site. The names of every Minnesota fire department will also be engraved.
"There will be a monolith... Held up by a series of columns, laid out by decades and centuries. So 100 columns and on those columns will be engraved the names, the department and the year of death. So it will be timeless," said Spring Lake Park- Blaine- Mounds View Fire Chief Nyle Zikmund.
While construction is underway at the Capitol grounds, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation is also working to identify the family members of dozens of fallen heroes. The foundation is hoping to honor the family members the day the memorial is unveiled by giving them a flag flown over the capitol.
"By identifying the families, we can see that many positive things have come out of the relationship their family had with the fire department. And the line of duty death was just one isolated point in their history of the department," St. Paul Fire Chief Tim Butler said.
When the project started more than a year ago, family members for more than 100 firefighters had not been identified. Now, thanks to staff, letters to local newspapers and phone calls, many firefighters have been identified.
"We actually pulled out almost like old recipe cards... That pretty much was their personnel file back from the late 1800's. Old, brown and wrinkled, and we started from a card with a name. And you just start digging and working through and it's very, very challenging, very, very difficult. That's why we are asking for the public's help," Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said.
The more than $600,000 dollars it cost to build the new memorial was raised primarily by the Minnesota firefighter community.
Click here for a complete list of Minnesota firefighters killed in the line of duty. The link also includes contact information if you know a fallen hero.