Firefighters memorial service carries calls to keep today's first responders safe

Posted at 4:56 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 18:05:34-04

CINCINNATI – A ceremony to honor the city's fallen firefighters Thursday was marked with pleas to keep today's firefighters safe.

Several hundred people attended the annual Greater Cincinnati Firefighters Memorial at the Memorial Park on Central Avenue and Sixth Street in Downtown. As the names of the fallen were read, their comrades, onlookers and public officials paid respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"They serve as a stark reminder that not all jobs are created equally," City Manager Harry Black said.

Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman, a Cincinnati native, was killed fighting a house fire last December. No Cincinnati firefighters were killed in the line of duty in the past year, but two did die - Eddie Chenault and Jordan Pieniazek, who was hit while riding his motorcycle to work.

Fire Chief Richard Braun challenged everyone to help make firefighting safer in every aspect.

"Don't ever be satisfied with the status quo," Braun said.

Braun noted how far the fire service has come in the last few decades with major strides in safety equipment.

"That protection and technology came at a high price," he said. "When most of the firefighters we honor today came into the fire service, they were given a plastic helmet, rubber boots and a rain coat."

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor reminded the community of the risks firefighters take to keep them safe, and asked them to respect all first responders.

 "We're hoping to improve those relationships so our police officers, our firefighters can go into a situation where they are risking their lives in the safest way possible," Taylor said.

Web Editor Greg Noble contributed to this report.