IFD to host service for Sept. 11 victims

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 9, 2002

Although for many people across the nation the wounds may never heal, the Ironton Fire Department will host a memorial service Wednesday as part of the healing process and honoring everyone who paid the ultimate price Sept. 11.

"The men felt a need to show some recognition for everyone that lost their lives," Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon said. "It is not really closure, this is probably something we will remember for eternity.

"Most firefighters don't look at themselves as heroes. We have a job to do and we do it."

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The service, open to the public, will begin at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at the fire station.

Activities include Martin Smith, retired from the Army, performing "Taps" and "Amazing Grace."

It will be a busy day for him as Smith also will participate in four different memorial services across the Tri-State Wednesday.

"To me, it is honor. I have been involved in public service since the Boy Scouts," Smith said. "This is something I have always felt should be done."

He was a firefighter in Upper Township, and still feels a kindred spirit with fire and police departments, he said.

A recognition service will include representatives from Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Service, the Ironton Police Department, the fire department union, Father Thomas Nau and Pastor Steve Harvey.

The U.S. flag will be lowered to half-mast and then raised at the end of the ceremony.

A tradition of ringing the station bell to honor the fallen will take place at the exact times that the World Trade Center Towers collapsed.

Before computers and telephones, when a firefighter was killed in the line of duty, fire stations used a telegraph to communicate the loss with other stations. They sounded out five measured dashes, a pause, five measured dashes, a pause then five measured dashes.

This came to be known as the Tolling of the Bell. This tradition will be revived to honor all those who died. It was often used in New York, Runyon said.

"The service is not necessarily just for uniforms, everyone in the United States suffered a loss that day," Runyon said. "It is a sharing and remembrance of everything that occurred."

Runyon said the firefighters don't really like any special attention, but they are glad people realize fire fighting is a hazardous job that takes training and skill.

Many changes have been implemented in fire stations across the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Overall, they have more things to prepare for and hope to educate people better, he said.

"As the president has said many times, this is a different type of war," Runyon said.

After the service, a reception will be hosted at the station with sandwiches and finger foods provided by local businesses. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune