State to engrave names on memorial wall; properties to be illuminated in red to honor fallen
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced 21 names will be added to the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall at the Empire State Plaza to honor the memory and heroism of these first responders who gave their lives in the line of duty.
State officials annually recognize the state's fallen firefighters with a ceremony at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Due to the pandemic, a tribute video for the honorees and their families has been created. The families of all 2020 honorees will be invited to attend the 24th annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial in 2021 so their loved ones can be recognized at a traditional in-person ceremony.
"Each of these 21 brave New Yorkers answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the communities and residents they serve. It is our duty to honor their bravery and legacy in perpetuity," Cuomo said. "With their names inscribed on this wall, we vow to never forget their heroic actions and pledge to always remember their legacy."
Additionally, Cuomo directed numerous state properties and landmarks be illuminated in red tonight to honor New York's fallen firefighters, joining a national "Light the Night" tribute happening across the country. Those locations include:
"In New York, we are proud to honor the legacy of the men and women who faced unthinkable danger with incredible courage," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This year, 21 names are being added to the Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and each of their stories serves as a testament to the heroism that is part of everyday life for those who answer the call and put on their uniform. We honor their bravery, and the bravery and sacrifice of their families and loved ones."
The individuals added to the wall this year can be found online here.
With the addition of the names of the 21 fallen firefighters, the Fallen Firefighters Memorial now honors 2,596 individuals who lost their lives in the line of duty. The site, dedicated in 1998, honors the memory and valor of New York's fallen firefighters each October. The memorial also pays tribute to the more than 100,000 New York active firefighters who risk their lives every day to protect New Yorkers.
Cuomo also issued two proclamations to honor the state's career and volunteer firefighters, marking the week of Oct. 4-10, 2020, as Fire Prevention Week and Oct. 8 as Firefighter Appreciation Day. Every day, the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control works in partnership with local fire departments, fire service organizations, school districts, civic groups and the National Fire Prevention Association to provide information and programs about the importance of fire safety awareness.
In 2019, fire departments statewide responded to approximately 1,550,000 incidents, or 129,167 incidents per month, 4,247 incidents per day and three incidents every minute.
New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, "Today, we honor the brave heroes who paid the ultimate price in serving their fellow New Yorkers, loved ones and communities. As we stand with their communities and loved ones in honoring these 21 souls, we must never forget their courage and dedication which, we as New Yorkers, should aspire to emulate."
New York State Fire Administrator Francis Nerney said, "While the COVID-19 is preventing us from holding a traditional ceremony, it won't stop us from honoring the 21 brave souls being memorialized on New York state's Fallen Firefighter Memorial Wall and standing with their families as their loss is mourned. We will never forget these brave souls who were fiercely committed to protecting their communities during the most difficult of times."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "We owe the brave men and women of our firefighting services immense gratitude. My deepest condolences go to the families and friends of the 21 fallen firefighters whose names will be immortalized on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial this year, and to the loved ones of all those heroic New York firefighters who have been added to the memorial before them. I want to especially recognize the sacrifice of Robert A. Mentrasti, a resident of Hartsdale, who was a first responder at Ground Zero and lost his life to 9/11-related cancer in 2017. Thank you to our bravest."
Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said, "These brave individuals are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice serving the communities they loved and cherished, and those acts of courage are something for which we will be forever grateful. When others fled from danger, these 21 individuals ran toward it and placed their sworn duty above their own safety and security. By placing them on the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall, we are demonstrating to the families that they left behind and the first responder community that they will never be forgotten."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented us from gathering to memorialize these fallen heroes this year, it has also highlighted just how fortunate we are for their selfless service. Long before this global pandemic, these brave men and women risked their lives day in and day out for our safety, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of protecting our communities. Now more than ever, we are eternally grateful for their service and the sacrifice of not only these heroic firefighters, but also their families and loved ones."
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said, "New York's firefighters and first responders have always put the needs of neighbors and communities above their own. Too many of those brave individuals have done so by making the ultimate sacrifice, and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. As we honor the memories of 21 fallen heroes whose names will be added to the memorial, each of us should take time to reflect on their unyielding dedication to make our lives better and our communities safer."
New York State Association of Fire Chiefs President Chief Lee Shurtleff said, "During these most challenging times, members of the fire service across the state of New York unite to pay tribute our colleagues who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. We also salute the families of the fallen and promise to ensure that their loved ones will be honored always."
Fireman's Association of the State of New York President John P. Farrell Jr., said, "The men and women of New York's fire service are dedicated professionals who do not hesitate to put their own safety on the line. Unfortunately, this commitment to protect their communities sometimes results in them making the ultimate sacrifice. This year, we honor 21 of our fallen brothers and sisters but they will forever be in our hearts and minds."
New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association President Samuel Fresina said, "On behalf of the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, we honor the memories of our fallen brothers and sisters who lost their lives in service to all New Yorkers. Their bravery and sacrifice in the line of duty will never be forgotten. They will live on forever in our hearts."