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Bell Ringing

posted Oct 12, 2016, 12:01 PM by Charles Mitchell   [ updated Oct 13, 2016, 9:02 AM by Jeffrey Sands, Assistant Chief 7-8B ]
Sixty-eight firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2015 and forty-four firefighters who died as the result of injuries from previous years were honored during the 35th annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday, October 9 in Emmitsburg,MD.

To locally commemorate the event, members of the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co of Newark took turns pulling the rope 112 times on the large fire bell at the Academy Street fire station at noon.  The large fire bell, located on the tower next to the fire station was originally used to summon firefighters for fires in town.  The 1200 lb. bell was purchased for $90 in 1905.  Today, it is rung twice a year.  It is rung for the number of firefighters killed in the line of duty in the previous year on the date of the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and it is rung 343 times, beginning at 9:59 AM on September 11 to remember the 343 firefighters killed in the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapse.

After the 112 tolls of the bell on Sunday, there was a short pause.  Members of Aetna then rang the bell in a series of three 3's, signifying the last call for Wilmington Fire Department Captain Chris Leach and Lieutenant Jerry Fickes.  Captain Leach and Lieutenant Fickes were killed in the line of duty at a residential fire in Wilmington on September 24.  Lieutenant Jerry Fickes was a member and Past Assistant Chief of Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co, Newark.

This annual ringing of the bell by our Firefighters and EMT's is an Aetna tradition going back more than 30 years.  While many of our members make the annual trek to the memorial service in Emmitsburg, members remaining in town gather to hold our own local solemn memorial.  

 Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Co Fire Chief Drew Bowerson said "Each October we gather our members at our own memorial bell to reflect on the sacrifices of those who died in the line of duty and to let their families and co-workers know they will never be forgotten."

Thousands of people, including Members of Congress, Administration officials, members of the fire service, and families, friends and co-workers of the fallen firefighters attend the annual event in Emmitsburg.  Families received flags flown over the U.S. Capitol and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Members of the fire service, honor guard units, and pipe and drum units from across the U.S. participate in this national remembrance. 

Bronze plaques containing the names of the fallen firefighters are added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial located on the academy campus.  The national tribute is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Fire Administration.

Note:  The above picture is Chief Drew Bowerson ringing the bell.