Chattanooga Fire Department Chief Randy Parker speaks during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Firefighter's Memorial fountain on Georgia Ave. in downtown Chattanooga on Monday morning.The ceremony in honor of deceased firefighters and their families was part of the kickoff to Fire Prevention Week in Chattanooga.
Joe Simpson of the Chattanooga Pipe Band plays the bagpipes during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Firefighter's Memorial fountain on Georgia Ave. in downtown Chattanooga on Monday morning. The ceremony in honor of deceased firefighters and their families was part of the kickoff to Fire Prevention Week in Chattanooga.
Clad in dress uniform and standing at attention, Chattanooga Fire Department firefighters lined the lawn at the Firefighter Memorial Fountain in honor of fallen brethren.
"It's been a long time. It's been 10 years since 9/11. If you don't remember things ... people tend to forget it if they aren't reminded," Chattanooga Fire Chief Randy Parker told reporters after Monday's ceremony downtown on Georgia Avenue.
The brief ceremony concluded with "Amazing Grace" played on the bagpipes. The Chattanooga memorial, which features a firefighter at the top of the fountain, was constructed after a June 1887 fire that killed two firefighters, W.M. Peak and Henry Iler.
The last time a Chattanooga firefighter died while working to extinguish a fire was April 12, 1968, when Hubert "Country" Powell died of a heart attack at a hardware store blaze, according to officials.
The ceremony kicks off fire prevention week.
"It's always emotional. We've had several (civilian) deaths this year in Chattanooga. To me, they are all needless because smoke detectors save lives. ... We want people to have them and use them and be safe in their homes," Parker said.
All this week, firefighters will be conducting a bicycle giveaway for children and going to schools to talk about home safety plans.
"We want to encourage families to sit down as a whole and plan how to get out of a fire. A lot of people get killed going back in to get family members out who are already out. They just didn't get together in one location," Parker said.
The Chattanooga Exchange Club also honored Senior Firefighter Brandon Atkins as firefighter of the year after he found an infant on the floor of a home at 70 Maude St. that was engulfed in flames on Feb. 12. Another child and adult woman also were rescued from the home by Atkins and other firefighters. The infant later died at a hospital.