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Bill would honor firefighters lost in the line of duty with $5M Olympia memorial

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(The Center Square) – More than 300 firefighters have been lost in Washington state in the line of duty since records have been kept going back to 1891, according to the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

The names of those firefighters – some with fire districts, others with wildland firefighting efforts and Department of Natural Resources – would be displayed on a new memorial at the Capitol Campus, if House Bill 2091, moving forward in Olympia, becomes law.

The prime sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Dan Bronoske, D-Tacoma, on Friday told members of the House Capital Budget Committee, “The idea is for us, as a state, to have a place for families to memorialize firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty; a place where people can come to reflect the losses they’ve suffered, because of the brave sacrifices made by firefighters across Washington state.”

The state Department of Natural Resources would oversee design, with input from other organizations, with a ballpark figure for design and construction at $5 million.

The memorial’s exact Capitol Campus location has not been determined.

Bud Sizemore with the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters testified in support of the bill.

“This project has been a longtime effort of the fire service, and this is an effort to actually place those who’ve fallen in a solemn place where families can reflect and can hold an annual memorial event there,” he said.

George Geissler, state forester and deputy supervisor at DNR, told the committee, “Firefighting is not a job; it’s a calling and a path dedicating their lives to service, and that is service to the protection of our cities, our communities, our citizens and our natural resources. These are the people who answer the call when we need them.”

He went on to say, “By definition a memorial is a tribute. Having a place to memorialize these individuals is important to us all, their peers, their co-workers; their families all ask us to help establish this memorial.”

Among the names initially placed on the memorial would be the four firefighters killed in Seattle in 1995 in the arson fire at the Mary Pang warehouse fire that claimed the lives of four Seattle Fire Department firefighters.

The names of three firefighters killed in 2015 in central Washington when their vehicle was overcome by flames in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest would also be among the first names added to the proposed memorial.

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