America’s fallen fire heroes who died in the line of duty, including Equality Volunteer Fire Dept. firefighter Michael Johnston, will be honored at the 40th-annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend this Saturday and Sunday, led by the nonprofit National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The names of the 215 firefighters will become a permanent part of the national memorial in honor of their sacrifices.
COVID-related line-of-duty deaths are now a factor in the tribute and will continue to be in the future, the foundation stated.
On Saturday evening, the families of America’s fallen firefighters will gather for a candlelit service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. During the ceremony, a plaque bearing the names of the fallen will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
The following morning, fire hero families will participate in the memorial service.
Eighty-seven firefighters died in the line of duty in 2020. Eighty-two firefighters died in 2019. Forty-six firefighters who died in the line of duty in previous years will also be honored. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will present each family with an American flag flown over the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the U.S. Capitol.
Four Alabama firefighters will be memorialized.
Firefighter Jonathan Burgess of the South Alabama Regional Airport Fire Department died on Jan. 8, 2013, age 33, after collapsing while performing safety checks on the runway.
Firefighter Brenden Pierce of the Palmerdale Fire District died on Feb. 23, 2019, age 21, from a stroke after returning from a weather-related emergency call.
Firefighter and paramedic Jared Echols of Springville Fire & Rescue, died on June 17, 2019, age 35, after participating in a recruit training exercise in Anniston.
Firefighter Michael Johnston of the Equality Volunteer Fire Department died on Oct. 18, 2019, age 45, from injuries sustained during an apparatus accident.
Their names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Academy grounds.
Location both days: National Fire Academy Campus, S. Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD
The event is closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFFF will provide a live satellite feed and online streaming of Memorial Weekend services, along with video of events for downloading courtesy of VISTA Worldlink.
Created by Congress in 1992, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation's mission is to honor and remember America’s fallen fire heroes, provide resources to assist their families in rebuilding their lives and work within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries.