For the Fallen

On 9/12, I offer this from South Milwaukee Fire Chief Joseph Knitter …

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the South Milwaukee firehouse, you will see this bell prominently displayed in our front lobby. While there are many American LaFrance bells in existence, this bell is one of a kind . . . In fact, the only one of its kind in the world.

In August of 2000, it was donated by the SMFD to the International Association of Firefighters for use at their Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Its duty would be to toll in honor of each of the firefighters that died in the line of duty each year at the annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. The bell served this solemn, but prestigious, purpose until the memorial park was redesigned in 2015 and the bell was, once again, retired and returned home to the SMFD. During its time, it would toll for 2,162 fallen firefighters, including the 343 that died in the attack on the World Trade Centers in New York City and many more that died as a result of health issues related to the brave work they did in the hours, days, weeks, and months following.

Retired SMFD FF/Paramedic Tom Reid not only arranged for the donation, but archived all the correspondence and donated a digital picture frame that scrolls the name, department, and date of death for all 2,162 fallen firefighters it tolled for. A solemn reminder of the supreme sacrifice they made.

Thanks, chief, for sharing, and thanks to Tom for his efforts to bring this to South Milwaukee. And thanks to all of our firefighters and police officers for their service. #NeverForget

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