Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire firefighters took an opportunity earlier today to pay respects to their fellow firefighters. The held a special ceremony to honor those who had fallen in the line of duty in 2011. A bell was rang once in recognition of each firefighter across the country.
"It's the least we could do, I mean these people paid their ultimate sacrifice protecting perfect strangers, and protecting the citizens of their community or their country," said Lt.. Joe Kelly of the Eau Claire Fire Department.
Eau Claire firefighters paid their respects to fellow firefighters Sunday at a remembrance ceremony.
"The ceremony is an opportunity for us to pay respects to firefighters that made the ultimate sacrifice last year in 2011. There were 80 firefighters in the nation that lost their lives last year, and we just pay our respects to those 80 fire fighters," Kelly said.
The ceremony had even more special meaning for local firefighters, as the bell rang twice for firefighters that died in the line of duty in western Wisconsin.
"Two of the local firefighters around town, Birchwood and Colby, gave that local sacrifice earlier this year, and that really resonates with us when we see some of our local comrades, just from this local area, who actually had fallen," said Jeff Dykes, the Eau Claire Firefighters Union President.
"It's something no one wants to think about, but it's something that could happen to any one of us here today or tomorrow, career or volunteer, law enforcement, fire or EMS. All of us are in this job, and knowing that there could be a day where we don't come home," Kelly said.
Each firefighter shares a common dedication to their work.
"They're doing it for their community, they're doing it for the fire service, and they're doing it for the citizens they protect," Dykes said.
Statewide, there were three firefighter deaths in 2011. Besides the fallen firefighter from Colby and Birchwood, a Milwaukee county firefighter's name was also added to the state memorial wall yesterday at a ceremony in Wisconsin Rapids.
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