SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) — To kick off fire prevention month, the Savannah Fire Department held a memorial to recognize firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives to protect others Saturday morning.
The ringing of the bell and placing red roses were ways of honoring the 29 fallen firefighters here in Savannah.
“To start of fire prevention week, what we normally have is a kickoff,” William Handy, Assistant Chief of Operations with the Savannah Fire Department said. “We want to recognize the firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives to protect others and protect property.”
Furthermore, Mark O’Dell, a research historian, found a local firefighter forgotten in history.
“It turned out that he died in a fire on January 3 of 1825,” O’Dell said. “This was a period when the city was using enslaved and free people of color to make up the workforce for the fire companies to put out fires.”
That individual was recognized for the first time on Saturday.
Honoring firefighters who died from cancer by placing a white rose started just last year. Assistant Chief Handy told News 3 this is an important way to shed light on an illness that has affected many firefighters.
“In research and data, firefighters are succumbing to particular types of cancers,” he said. “There’s been a lot of research. Center of Disease Control has identified certain types of cancers that are notably higher risk for firefighters.”
A family we spoke with said supporting their loved one killed in the line of duty here in Savannah is important.
“It’s honoring him and paying our respect,” Marquis Parrish said.
“And making sure his death wasn’t in vain,” Samantha Simmons continued. “It warms my heart to see everyone come and support him every year. Not only him but all of the fallen firefighters.”