Fallen Fire fighter memorial
September 17, 2015
Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of the 10th anniversary of the Oregon Fallen Fire fighters Memorial.
I want to thank all of the fire fighters and chief officers from local, state, tribal, federal and contract fire agencies that are with us today. Your dedicated service to our state is never taken for granted, and is greatly appreciated.
Our current wildfire season has been a vivid reminder of the dangers you face. I am thankful that there are no names to add to Oregon’s memorial this year. But we know our neighbors in Washington are not as fortunate, having lost three wildland fire fighters in the Twisp River Fire. I learned of their passing as I was returning from a day touring the fire-ravaged community of John Day, and I was heartbroken.
We join with the families and the US Forest Service in mourning the loss of those that fell.. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for fire fighters who were injured during the same incident.
I know fire fighters are not the only people here who deserve our gratitude—so I extend a special thanks to all the families who are here today, especially the families, friends, and co-workers of those fire fighters whose names were added to our memorial in prior years and whose memories we honor today. This is the commitment I make today as your Governor to all who give their lives in the line of duty: We will never forget.
The names on our memorial span more than a century of service. The names represent not just fire fighters, but co-workers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends.
Our first known line-of-duty death is noted here—that of fire fighter James Reed, who died of a heart attack on August 16, 1891, when he was pulling a hand-drawn fire engine to a blaze in Portland.
We also honor, the nine members of our Prineville Hotshots who died fighting the Storm King Mountain wildfire in Colorado in 1994.
And, our three Coos Bay fire fighters who perished in 2002 responding to a call at an auto parts store.
There are many more names, each with their own story, their own families, their own loved ones and friends. Each individual lost is commemorated by a United States flag placed up the driveway here to your right—there are 168 flags lining the driveway. 168 lives. 168 stories. 168 families left behind.
For the families and friends here today honoring your loved ones, I hold you in my heart.
And to all of the first responders here today, I thank you for your dedicated service to the citizens of the State of Oregon. Stay safe.