By Jeff Gallatin
Bay Village fire Chief Chris Lyons believes it’s appropriate that the new memorial to firefighters located in front of the fire station was unveiled Saturday during the department’s first open house.
“We serve the public as firefighters, and it’s nice we were able to show it off as finished for the first time during an open house which we plan to have as an annual event for the general public,” he said.
In addition to the first public showing of the memorial, the national anthem was sung at 1 p.m., with its bicentennial honored as well. Citizens also were able to check out the fire station and various equipment, get pictures and enjoy a variety of food and refreshments. Lyons estimated more than 500 people came to the event, noting there were lines for several of the activities.
“I’m glad we’re noting the national anthem as well, because I think the fire service is a lot like America. It’s a proud and humble service,” he said. “We’re all proud to serve the public like we do. But firefighters are humble as well, because we’re not doing it for attention, we’re doing it to take care of people and our communities.”
The monument has three plaques on it, as well as decorative greenery inside it. One plaque is dedicated to the department’s volunteer firefighters from 1922-1976. The department switched over from volunteer to professional status in 1948.
“The plaque goes to 1976 because that’s when the last of the volunteer firefighters passed away,” Lyons explained. “We wanted to honor their service in establishing a strong tradition of service to Bay Village.”
Another plaque notes the names of Bay Village firefighters who have died since the department became a full-time service. Lyons noted thankfully that Bay Village has not lost any firefighters in the line of duty.
“We’ve come close because we’ve had major injuries – including some career-ending ones,” he said. “We know it can be a tough job at times. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to put a memorial in place to honor those who do it.”
A third plaque notes businesses, people, families and sponsors who aided the department in the memorial project.
And there is room for at least one more plaque to honor other firefighters in the future, Lyons said.
“We wanted to have the additional room to add additional firefighters onto the memorial,” he said.
Current Bay Village firefighter Justin Fischbach and his business, Draco Landscape, donated much of the materials and in-kind labor to the memorial project, Lyons said.
“It’s personal for a lot of firefighters and their family to have a project like this,” Lyons said.
Lyons credited his predecessor, Bay Village fire Chief Jim Sammon, with getting the project underway.
“We wouldn’t have it unless he had started to work on getting this in front of the station,” Lyons said.
Sammon said he’s glad to see the project culminate successfully.
“I’m glad to see that the memorial is there and will be paying honor to the firefighters and their service to the community,” he said.
Sammon said he’s also glad that members of firefighters’ families are both honored and helped get the project done with contributions and support.
“Families are a big part of the fire service, not only taking care of them in the community, but the firefighters’ own families supporting them and the service,” he said.