Firefighters from throughout Hamilton County’s 10 municipalities assembled downtown Monday morning to honor 13 firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
For years the Fountain Square Park has been a Chattanooga landmark with its tall statue of a firefighter standing at the ready to battle a blaze. The statue is a monument to two firefighters, Henry Iler and W.M. Peak who perished in what is commonly referred to as the 1887 Bee Hive fire. Other Hamilton County Firefighters have died in the line of duty since that killer blaze and Red Bank Chief Mark Mathews thought it would be appropriate for Fountain Square Park to host a memorial for the 11 other firefighters who put duty before life.
Chief Mathews approached his fellow chiefs about creating a lasting tribute to the fallen. He said, “We thought it would be a really good idea to create two memorial markers with bronze plaques identifying those firefighters who gave their lives in service of others.”
The firefighters raised $7,300 to create two monuments weighing two and half tons each and had them placed adjacent to the memorial for Firefighters ller and Peak.
Chattanooga Fire Chief Randy Parker supported the initiative. He said, “This is a living memorial for all those who gave their lives for their community and I am proud of the firefighting community for coming together to create this lasting tribute.”
Emergency Services Director Tony Reavley said, “When people look at those bronze plaques, we hope they will realize the extreme danger every first responder faces when a call comes in.”
Among those joining in the memorial dedication Monday morning were relatives of the fallen firefighters and local elected officials.