California Professional Firefighters

The California Firefighters Memorial ... A Timeless Tribute

What is the California Firefighters’ Memorial?

The California Firefighters’ Memorial is a unique and stunning tribute to more than 1,000 firefighters who have died in the line of duty since California became a state in 1850.

Where is it located?

The California Firefighters Memorial is located in Capitol Park, the grounds adjacent to the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Capitol Park is a state and national landmark.

What does the Memorial look like?

The California Firefighters Memorial features three elements, all of which work together seamlessly while maintaining the beauty and integrity of the park:

  • The Memorial Wall: A two-sided polished limestone wall on which is inscribed the names of every firefighter who has died in the line of duty since California became a state. The wall is flanked by bronze statues of firefighter “turnouts” – the protective garments worn by firefighters in action;

  • "Fallen Brother”: A bronze statue, directly adjacent to the wall, that honors our fallen heroes. It depicts an anguished firefighter removing a lifeless colleague from the flames;

  • "Holding the Line” – another bronze statue, this one honoring the profession of firefighting. It depicts four firefighters in action working a hose line.

The Jerde Partnership, a world-renowned architectural firm whose credits include San Diego’s Horton Plaza and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, provided the basic design.

How do I find out  who is on the Memorial Wall and where they’re from?

The complete list of all names on the Memorial Wall is posted on the California Firefighters’ Memorial web site – www.memorial.cpf.org. Two different versions of the list are posted on the site – one by year of death, the other by fire department.

What criteria were used to determine whose name would go on the Wall?

The criteria used to determine what constitutes a “line of duty” death is based on that used for the International Association of Fire Fighters’ Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colorado. All fallen firefighters determined to have died in the line of duty – by their fire department, local jurisdiction or through a judgment from state or federal authorities – are included. This includes those firefighters whose deaths were officially determined to have been job-related.

Since 1983, the State of California has recognized the deaths of active firefighters from heart attack and certain types of cancer to be, by definition, job related, because of the particular types of hazards firefighters face on the job. These names are also included on the California Firefighters’ Memorial Wall.

What happens if a name is left off of the Wall?

The California Fire Foundation is committed to making sure that every firefighter who dies in the line of duty is represented on the Memorial Wall. Any names submitted to the Foundation – by family members, local unions or other interested parties – will be considered. If the fallen firefighter fits the Foundation’s criteria for a “line of duty” death, that person’s name will be added to the Memorial Wall.

How often will names be added to the Wall?

Because of the expense involved in removing and replacing panels on the Memorial Wall, names will not be added one at a time, but rather in conjunction with periodic ceremonies to pay tribute to the additional names. The next name-adding ceremony is scheduled for October 18, 2008.

Who created the statues?

“Fallen Brother” was sculpted by Jesus Romo, an artist who is also a firefighter. Romo spent 27 years in the Sacramento City Fire Department, retiring in 2001 as a Battalion Chief. “Holding the Line” was created by noted artist Lawrence Noble, whose work includes bronze memorials of subjects ranging from Civil War General Phillip Sheridan to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

How did the Memorial come about?

The California Firefighters Memorial was conceived by Dan Terry, President Emeritus of California Professional Firefighters, after attending ceremonies at the national firefighters memorial in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Legislation authorizing the construction of the Memorial in Capitol Park was approved in 1992. The site was dedicated at a special ceremony in May of 1995.

How long did it take to build the Memorial?

Most of the actual work on the Memorial took three years, with the sculpting and casting of the statues. There was also a lengthy public comment phase during which the site design was refined to insure its compatibility with its historic surroundings. Actual construction began in December of 2001.

How much does the Memorial cost and how is it funded?

The $2 million cost of the California Firefighters’ Memorial – as well as the ongoing expenses of maintaining it – is financed without any government money. It is the only completely self-sustaining memorial in Capitol Park. The bulk of the funding was raised through two sources:

  • Firefighter License Plate: A specialty plate sold only to active and retired firefighters. The license plate features an image from the Universal Pictures movie “Backdraft.”

  • Firefighters Memorial Tax Check-Off: A voluntary contribution allowing state taxpayers to allocate a portion of their expected refunds to the Memorial. The check-off is one of ten on the current state income tax form.

Local and state firefighter organizations raised thousands more, holding golf tournaments, car shows and a variety of other fundraising activities. More than 80% of all the money raised for the Memorial came from firefighters themselves.

What is the California Fire Foundation?

The California Fire Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, established in 1987 by California Professional Firefighters. Its mission is to develop projects and programs designed to honor the memory of fallen firefighters and assist their families. The California Fire Foundation is the official organization charged with raising money for the California Firefighters Memorial.

What is California Professional Firefighters?

California Professional Firefighters (CPF) is the largest state firefighter organization in the U.S., representing more than 30,000 career firefighters in nearly 170 affiliated local unions. CPF is the State Council for the International Association of Fire Fighters, and is affiliated with the California Labor Federation. Through the California Fire Foundation, CPF has been the central organizing force driving construction of the California Firefighters’ Memorial.

 How do I find out more about the Memorial?

In addition to the Memorial web site, the California Fire Foundation also has a toll-free phone number for more information: (800) 890-3213.