AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Firefighters from all over the state on Saturday morning held their annual memorial ceremony at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Augusta.
This ceremony is organized to remember the firefighters who have died both on duty and off duty in Maine and around the country.
The mood was somber, but fire marshal Joe Thomas took the opportunity to make a passionate speech about putting an end to fire-related deaths.
Retired firefighter Rosemary Hentz of Georgetown said putting herself in harm's way each day is part of the job. “I think it's our duty to help others and it's just something that you do," she said. "Something that you have a calling for.”
A group of firefighters bowed their heads and listed the names of firefighters across the state who have lost their lives saving others.
“I don't want to add any more names,” Thomas said. “I've seen enough death in my career.”
But the danger of fighting fires comes with a risk of death, right? Thomas disagrees.
He said that fire-related deaths don’t have to happen.
“After 44 years of this, I just look at myself in the mirror and say 'this is not acceptable,’” he said. “We don't have to have this happen. We have the science. We have the technology. We are the greatest industrialized nation in the world, and we accept the fact that people are going to die in fires.”
Thomas said he won't stand for it anymore. He is making it his mission to spread fire safety and to avoid adding any other names and any more heartache to this list.
The fire marshal is starting a statewide campaign to educate elected officials and leaders about fire safety and the technology available. He hopes this will prevent future fires and fatalities.