Aug. 13—A new memorial dedicated to honoring the work of local firefighters, has officially had its opening ceremony today at St. Joseph's Fire Station 9.
The memorial, which has been under construction for over two years, features a large amount of symbolism, all the way down to the materials used in its creation.
The memorial features two different pairs of firefighter boots, a bust of a fire fighter in gear and a bell meant to honor fire fighter bell ceremonies.
Eric Fuson, the project's artist and the Executive Director of the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, spoke about the various ways in which he involved symbolism.
"The panels are made out of quartz and steel that rusts, which is oxidation, just like fire, so (the memorial) is going to change, and the back panels will have kind of a rusty orange," Fuson said. "The stainless steel, which stays shiny and clean all the time just like their trucks, but boy, you just pick up their gear, and it's kind of that dirty, smokey smell to it. The color of the bronze statues is permanent, just like their will to go fight fires. (The symbolism continues) down to the visor of the firefighter where you can see the reflection of other firefighters going in and this one moving to join them."
Fuson also spoke highly of the area's firefighters and emphasized the importance of honoring those from the past and present, as well as those yet to take on the task.
"There's a lot of aspects to (the memorial) to kind of represent things, right down to the bell, which is so important to (the firefighters) and their bell ceremonies to honor those who've fallen," he said. "But this isn't just about the ones who have fallen, it's about those guys who are out there every day, all of the individuals that are firefighters are just amazing individuals who are willing to put their safety second for us, which is just incredible."
After observing the ceremony, local firefighter Indigo Gaydusek shared what seeing the new memorial meant to her.
"I just really appreciate that we've put the time and effort in to do something to honor those who've fallen," she said. "It just shows that everyone cares about the firefighters and the work that we're doing, the danger that we allow ourselves to be in. I just really appreciate that that's something we prioritize and all of the work that has gone into making it happen."
Expectations are for there to be a few more additions to the memorial within the coming months, with a dedication ceremony planned to take place sometime in early October.