This year the 4th Annual Ventura County Fallen Firefighters Memorial featured something new: a bronze memorial depicting a firefighter in turnout gear, holding a blanket-wrapped infant, on a pedestal with the engraved names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty or through job-related illness while assigned in the county. (Photo by Brian D. Wilson)

Firefighter memorial dedicated to those that have fallen

October 03, 2008
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThis year the 4th Annual Ventura County Fallen Firefighters Memorial featured something new: a bronze memorial depicting a firefighter in turnout gear, holding a blanket-wrapped infant, on a pedestal with the engraved names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty or through job-related illness while assigned in the county. A procession of bagpipers and drummers in traditional Highland dress opened the September 27 ceremony on the lawn of the Ventura County Government Center, where about 1,000 family members, supporters and firefighters gathered.“It’s a great tribute to those who have fallen” and the large crowd is a “great show of support,” said Holly Nash of Santa Paula, whose husband Bill is a former Santa Paula Fire Department firefighter and a public information officer for the Ventura County Fire Department. Nash was also impressed with the long line of fire engines, equipment and dress uniforms of fire personnel from numerous departments, including the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Fire Service.The Pipes and Drums of California Professional Firefighters accompanied the presentation of colors at the event that honored the ultimate sacrifice of 39 firefighters while assigned in Ventura County. During the ceremony, three firefighters hoisted the national and state flags along with a red memorial flag embroidered with the phrase “All gave some. Some gave all.”Ventura County Fire Department Chief Bob Roper told the crowd he hopes the memorial will be a place where family, friends, fellow firefighters and residents can come to remember the dead. The seven-foot statue stands atop a 7,000-pound granite pedestal, engraved with the 39 names and the Firefighter’s Prayer.“This has been a long time coming,” Santa Paula Fire Chaplain Kay Wilson-Bolton said of the memorial.City Councilman Ray Luna, a retired firefighter, said the memorial made him feel a “little overwhelmed that recognition has finally come to those who put their life on the line.”“It took four years of hard work to make this vision a reality,” said Roper, who noted those listed represent “some fathers, some sons, some husbands, but all heroes.”Firefighters have a commitment to service that, according to California State Fire Executive Officer Del Waters, is shared by all. “Are we heroes? No,” but Waters said there are many who “think we are,” and that image must be lived up to.
Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy said “There is no greater tribute to community service than this memorial.”The “Ultimate goal is no more names will be added to this memorial,” which Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Mahon noted resulted from a joint effort that included area Rotary Clubs that raised more than $200,000.SPFD Chief Rick Araiza took part in the bell ringing ceremony, symbolic of years past when ringing bells were synonymous with firefighting. Firefighters started their day by ringing a bell, testing their alarm system. At the end of a call the bell would be rung three times to let the town know that firefighters had returned safely to their station. The bell ceremony symbolized the completion of the tours of duty of those whose names appear on the memorial.A Westlake High School student choir and string quartet performed throughout the ceremony, which closed when Fillmore Fire Captain Bob Thompson played “Taps.”Following the ceremony, Luna said the memorial brought memories of the day when Luna - then a boy - decided to become a firefighter. “I saw Frank Bullard come out of a fully involved house with a baby... the baby cheery red from the heat of the flames, and Frank’s turnout,” before the days of advanced fire fighting equipment and protection, “wasn’t much.”Araiza said he and Assistant Chief Kevin Fildes have been involved in the creation of the memorial “since the beginning. I’m very pleased with the turnout... and it’s a beautiful day.”



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