|Visiting the Empire State Plaza|
|New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial|
The New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial honors the men and women of the fire service who have perished in the line of duty in the Empire State since 1811. The memorial is located between the Justice Building and The Egg in a park-like area bordered by Norway maple trees. Dedicated in 1998, it consists of a bronze statue backed by a granite wall inscribed with the names of some eighteen hundred firefighters who gave their lives to save others.
The ten-foot-high statue represents two firefighters rescuing an injured comrade, and is the work of artist Robert Eccleston of Schuyler Falls. In concept, the firefighters are dragging their comrade away from the wall of death. The wall is fifty-four feet long and fifteen feet high, with the names of the firefighters placed randomly to allow for additions.
Patina, the color of soot, darkens the bronze figures, but burnished highlights call attention to their faces and to details of their 1960s-style turn-out gear. Cast at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon, New York, the statue rests on a granite pedestal and is centered in a plaza thirty-eight feet in diameter. The plaza's charcoal and red brick pavers form a Maltese Cross, a firefighter's symbol of protection and badge of honor. This insignia originates from the Knights of St. John, a band of crusaders who risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from a new weapon introduced in the war for possession of the holy land-fire-thus becoming the first firefighters.
Governor George E. Pataki has a special interest in this memorial, as his father was a volunteer firefighter for fifty years. The Governor commented at the memorial's 1998 dedication:
"Because of the danger and the risk they face, firefighters must be willing, each time they go out, to make the supreme sacrifice. Their families must also be prepared, as much as one can be prepared, to never see them alive again. A memorial to commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of such a vital service to our communities is the very least New York State can do."
Photo by: Michael Fredericks