COLORADO SPRINGS – Thousands of fire fighters and families of fallen firefighters from across the country are in Colorado Springs to pay tribute to the 271 men and women killed in the line of duty this year.
The 32nd Annual International Association of Fallen Firefighters Memorial took place Saturday morning at Memorial Park.
The Loveland family came all the way from Pennsylvania, one of hundreds of families pouring in to honor their loved ones, who dedicated their lives keeping others out of harm’s way.
With a black chalk in hand, 16-year old Emma Loveland stands at the wall of honor, steadily creating an impression of her stepdad’s name: Dennis Devoe.
“He was a really great guy, he was a firefighter from Harrisburg,” she said.
His etched name and those around his serve as a reminder of these fallen firefighters’ service to their community.
“He always wanted to do it and like, he just like liked to help people,” Loveland said when describing her step-dad.
“So it was like a major thing for him to help people and be around people all the time and just knew that he was helping the world.”
This year IAFF added the names of 271 fallen firefighters to the Wall of Honor.
That’s the third largest number ever in the event’s history.
For each name, honor guard members lowered a flag and sounded a bell which symbolizes mission accomplished and also, the loss of a comrade.
“When a firefighter had died in the line of duty, it was the toll of the bell that solemnly announced a comrade’s passing,” said AIFF Honor Guard Commander Bruce Brown at the podium.
“Their duties well-done, we will again sound their last alarm. they have gone home.”
Honor guard members personally handed family members an IAFF flag to honor their fallen firefighter.
And while it’s never easy for folks like Loveland to cope with this kind of loss, it does bring comfort knowing their loved one are in good company.
“It’s sad knowing that he’s up here but like it’s good that he’s with all the other heroes,” Loveland added.
“That’s where he would want to be.”
The Wall of Honor at Memorial Park is unique in that it honors first responders from both the U.S. and Canada.
Families and firefighters have been traveling to Colorado Springs to attend this memorial for the past 29 years.