On Thursday, 85 plaques from the former firefighters memorial in Mills Park were transported by hand from Fire Station No. 51 on Stewart Street to a new memorial at the Capitol Complex.
It was a solemn journey, carried out by an honor guard of firefighters from all over Nevada. The plaques were set on a table near the new memorial site. Each represented a fallen firefighter. A stone wall nearby will bear the same names in the future. Overhead, a Nevada Division of Forestry helicopter buzzed through the sky as first responders, family members and lawmakers gathered to dedicate the new site.
“To me, this whole memorial is about those people who gave the ultimate sacrifice and died in the line of duty,” Todd Ingalsbee, president of the Professional Firefighters of Nevada, told the Appeal. “Their sacrifices have made it better for all firefighters, both present and future. Because of their sacrifices, we have better equipment, safer working conditions, better benefits, and our tactics have changed to keep us safer.”
Ingalsbee said PFFN, which has more than 2,700 members, raised about $1 million for the memorial since the site was approved by lawmakers in 2017.
“We’re going to be giving the plaques to all the families or departments or the locals to have,” he said, noting the engravings on the stone wall were delayed by weather.
Ingalsbee lauded the five bronze statues central to the memorial. They were created by sculptor Austin Weishel, himself a firefighter.
The bronze statues included in a new firefighters memorial between the Capitol and the Nevada Legislature building. (Scott Neuffer photo)
“All the sculptures represent what we do on a daily basis,” Ingalsbee said. “We have a nozzleman, whose goal, obviously, is to extinguish the fire. We have a captain, whose main responsibility is to keep the crew and make the decisions necessary to save the property or life of the person that we’re running on.”
Two other statues are in the position of rescuing a third, “getting that firefighter out,” as Ingalsbee put it.
“This is about the sacrifices the past has made, what we’re doing right now in the present, but also to make sure in the future we have firefighters that are taking care of each other, which enables us to take care of our citizens and our great state,” he said.
Amanda Brady of Minden came to the memorial to honor firefighters including her husband — a battalion chief at Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.
“I think it brings the community together, all the departments,” she said. “I think it’s important to see their sacrifice of what they do.”
Jen Almeida of Minden has a son who is a firefighter paramedic with Tahoe Douglas Fire and was part of the honor guard Thursday.
“We come from a law enforcement family,” Almeida said. “My husband is law enforcement, so we’re super involved with honor guard with him and have been to many events here for the law enforcement memorial, so we just think it’s super exciting to have the memorial here at the Capitol where it should be.”
When asked about the statues, Almeida said, “The detail is amazing.”
Just northwest of the new memorial is the existing law enforcement officers memorial, which also bears the names of fallen first responders.
“It’s incredibly important that especially as this is situated on our legislative complex, that your public safety entities are all co-located, where we can recognize all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.
Bryon Hunt, firefighter paramedic with Carson City, encouraged the audience to engage with the new memorial and to reflect upon its meaning.
“Take that moment, walk around, touch the statues, look at the wall,” he said.