The Monticello Fire Department sent three representatives to an emotional Sept. 30 dedication ceremony in St. Paul that honored the state’s fallen firefighters.
Capt. Don Anderson, firefighter Rick Lymer and firefighter Ken Kako helped dedicate the newly installed Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
In 2011, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol.
The new memorial families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to these men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The foundation raised $600,000 to fund the memorial through donations from the public, Minnesota businesses and the state’s firefighting community. “The memorial is funded by firemen for the firemen, Lymer said. According to Anderson, the Monticello Fire Department contributed $2,000 toward the memorial buidling effort earlier this summer.
After every fifth name was read, a story was told about a fallen firefighter. “It was pretty interesting to hear,” Lymer said. “You could see how the fire service has changed over time,” he said.
The memorial on the state capitol grounds honors 207 Minnesota firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of duty and tradition. At the center of the 6,000 square foot memorial is a sculpture of a firefighter rescuing a child. It’s surrounded by a grid of metal columns, each etched with the name of a fallen firefighter. “Firefighters are part of a giant brotherhood,” Lymer said. “It was a way to honor the ones who didn’t make it. It was a memorable experience for us.”
Anderson said the trio met in Monticello at 9 a.m. and headed to Maple Grove to pick up a Metro Transit bus that took them to the memorial’s main entrance.
Lymer said the trio’s early arrival left additional time to visit with fellow firefighters. “It was like one big family reunion,” he said. Lymer previously worked for the Plymouth Fire Department. Anderson worked for the Golden Valley Fire Department for 22 years. Kako said his brother influenced his becoming a firefighter.
“My dad was a fireman for 22 years,” Lymer added. “We all felt that going to the ceremony was worthwhile. There was some talking shop, but a lot of tradition and ceremony.”
One likely topic of discussion among memorial ceremony attendees was the Sauk Rapids Verso paper mill fire earlier this summer that prompted a statewide response.
“Wright County fire departments were among the first paged for that fire,” Anderson said. “They contacted the incident management team, and one of the members of that team lives in Wright County.
Lymer said he was at the fire scene the first night. “We manned trucks and did several trips into that building. It was a real different experience.”
National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 to Oct. 13. Lymer said the department appreciates the public’s involvement.
“We’ve seen a decrease in fire calls the last couple of years.” he said. “We believe that’s due to fire inspection and public participation. It seems to be paying off. And, it makes our lives a little bit less dangerous.”