Firefighters from across the state gathered Wednesday at Chanhassen Fire Department #1 to announce that they have exceeded their fundraising goal for the construction of a memorial honoring the state’s fallen firefighters, with more than $600,000 committed in donations and pledges.
The Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial will stand on the grounds of the State Capitol. Construction will begin in the spring, with the memorial completed by National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in October 2012.
Since 1881, 194 Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. A small memorial dedicated to these fallen heroes has stood in a tucked-away location near the baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for more than 20 years.
In July, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched a campaign to create a much larger, more accessible and interactive memorial at the State Capitol to give families, friends, co-workers and community members a permanent location to pay tribute to these men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“This was a joint effort between firefighters, the business community and the public,” said Martin Scheerer, President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association. “We’ve seen support pour in from all across Minnesota, and we’re particularly proud of the way many of the fire departments across the state have contributed to this important effort.”
The cost to build the memorial is $500,000, and the remaining $100,000 will be placed into a maintenance fund for the memorial, per state regulations for a memorial placed on the grounds of the State Capitol. Donations exceeding the $600,000 goal will fund educational scholarships for children of active, retired or deceased firefighters, and for spouses of deceased firefighters, and for minor expenses for the October memorial dedication.
There’s still time to be part of the legacy. Financial contributions to the Minnesota State Firefighter Memorial fund can be sent to: Minnesota Fire Service Foundation c/o Flagship Bank, 7525 Office Ridge Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3644. Online contributions can be made at: . All contributions are tax deductible.