HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The names of two Connecticut firefighters are now part of a national memorial. It happened Sunday at a solemn ceremony attended by President Barack Obama. Obama was one of hundreds of people gathered in Emmitsburg, Maryland on Sunday to salute fallen firefighters from all over the country. Emmitsburg is home to the National Firefighters Memorial. On the plaque commemorating those lost in 2014, unveiled yesterday, were two names from Connecticut.
One was Hartford Firefighter Kevin Bell. Interim Hartford Fire Department Assistant Chief Scott Brady remembers Bell jumping into an unfamiliar role at a fire years ago.
“Things were a little chaotic at the beginning of the fire and we had to move the pumper around and reconnect some hoses,” said Brady. “It was a pretty big job and I remember he did a fantastic job.”
Then, at a fire on October 7, 2014, Bell got trapped inside a burning building with his air tank running low. He never made it out. That is how Bell’s name joined New Britain Assistant Chief David Fiori and 85 others on the memorial Sunday. The 59-year-old Fiori had a heart attack while on duty and died in May of last year.
Firefighter funerals and memorials are usually huge because everyone who does the job is well aware of the risks they all take.
“You know, we’re all only one call away from making that sacrifice,” said Brady. “We work really hard to prevent that and we work really hard to be safe.”
In the year since Hartford lost Firefighter Bell, the city voted to rename the Blue Hills Station, where he worked in his honor. In that time, the city has tried to learn from the tragedy as well. Training is being re-evaluated, and the department got a $1.5 million grant for new air packs.
“Those packs are in the final stages of being ready for use,” said Brady. “The training program is coming to an end and we hope in the next couple months we will have those in place.”
Much sooner than that, there will be a remembrance ceremony at what is currently still called the Blue Hills Station. That ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, the one year anniversary of Firefighter Bell’s death.