Because of the Federal government shutdown, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) is readying backup locations for this weekend's ceremonies to honor 81 firefighters who died in the line of duty. The closing of the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the home of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, will not stop the nation from honoring its heroes. In case the memorial remains off-limits through next weekend, nearby facilities will be used for the events.
"If you have plans to attend these ceremonies, do not change them," said Dennis Compton, chairman of the NFFF Board of Directors. "We will be honoring these firefighters and their families this weekend in Emmitsburg as we have done for 32 years."
Through the generosity of our good neighbors, the Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughters of Charity and Mount St. Mary's University, the Candlelight Vigil on Saturday, October 5 and the Memorial Service on Sunday, October 6 will go on as planned. The Daughters of Charity have also provided space for the Memorial Weekend Command Post.
"If it is at all possible, our hope is to still have the ceremonies on the grounds of the Memorial," explained Compton. "If the campus remains closed as the week progresses, we will move the Candlelight and Memorial Services to our backup locations. This is a fluid situation and we have plans in place for different scenarios."
"Our priority is to make sure the survivors receive the support, resources and respect they need and deserve. Therefore, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend will occur, regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill," said Chief Ronald Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF. "We felt it was better to prepare in advance for the potential shutdown than to wait for a decision from Congress."
Thanks to donations of staffing and facilities from the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company, the Town of Emmitsburg, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services and Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, the NFFF has moved its headquarters to the Emmitsburg Ambulance Building for the week.
"All those who are helping understand that Memorial Weekend is an important step in a survivor's journey. While our physical location may have to change, the foundation's mission remains the same - helping the loved ones of the fallen along their path towards healing," said Siarnicki.