It’s a number with significance for the Akron Fire Department, and one its members are thankful has not changed in more than four decades.
“None of our honored firefighters started their shift thinking they would die that day,” Fire Chief Robert C. Ross Jr. said at Station No. 4 on East Thornton Street during a ceremony Thursday for Akron Firefighters Memorial Day.
“It is a risk every firefighter takes when they come to work.”
It has been 44 years since the last of 13 Akron firefighters died in the line of duty.
Ross told those at the ceremony that so far this year 81 firefighters have been killed on duty in the United States, including 19 who died June 30 in a wildfire in Arizona. The overall figure matches the number of firefighter deaths for 2012, he said.
“While we hope and pray no more are added to the total, unfortunately, the odds are not in our favor,” the chief said.
Included in a large crowd of Akron firefighters at the service were the department’s 42 newest firefighters, 27 of whom are military veterans who are still in training.
“While you have not yet graduated and taken your oath, you are to be commended to be willing to accept the risk that is part of being a firefighter,” Ross said.
Mayor Don Plusquellic thanked family members of the fallen for their sacrifice and thanked the present firefighters for their service.
“It has to be a difficult problem for a family to know every time an individual leaves the house that they may not return.” Plusquellic said. “We appreciate you more than you know.”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.