IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, Colorado Springs, Colorado
On behalf of Rob Labossiere, Mike Lisowick and myself I would like to thank the members of Local 867 and the UFFW Executive for the honour and privilege of attending this year’s International Association of Fire Fighters Memorial held in Colorado Springs.
We are humbled to have had a role in remembering our Fallen and were among the 996 fire fighters present in the Honour Guard. This year Local 867 added two names to the wall, Ken Merritt and Brian Brusegard. Their names were read and flags presented to family members or delegates in honour of our fallen.
In total 168 names were put on the wall and among those were nineteen Fire Fighters from Prescott Arizona. You will recall these were the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots who were caught in a windblown wildfire north of Phoenix. A very honourable tribute by the IAFF, was having all nineteen flag bearers in front of the podium, the names read and flags presented at the same time. Truly a heart wrenching moment for all of us and unbelievably difficult for the spouses and parents receiving the flags. Keep in mind that fourteen of these men were under 30 years of age, the oldest, 43. The surviving member of the group was in attendance and a standing ovation acknowledged the difficult time he must be enduring.
We also have to recognize the efforts of Colorado Springs Local 5. They volunteer so much time catering to the needs of the families in attendance and the families are what makes this memorial so special. Keith and Lorraine Merritt could not say enough about the hospitality they received from the Colorado Springs fire fighters and these sentiments we relayed to members of Local 5.
We also wish to note the attendance of Al Bartley and Don Franchuk this year. Local 867 has often had members of our motorcycle club make the journey and this year Al and Don took part in the procession of bikes, which numbered in the hundreds. Families and local residents lined the route to Memorial Park holding up signs acknowledging their appreciation to fire fighters.
There were many opportunities to speak with members of Locals from across the U.S. and Canada and discuss some of the issues they face in their communities. Our work in Winnipeg on presumptive and EMS issues are well known throughout the IAFF. We should all be proud.