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Arizona’s fallen firefighters, paramedics remembered at dedication

Fallen Firefighters Color Guard marches to the Memorial (KTAR News/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — It was a warm day full of sunshine at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix — but not for colleagues and loved ones honoring Arizona’s fallen firefighters and paramedics.

At the annual Fallen Firefighters and Paramedics Memorial on Sunday, some were solemn, others wept discreetly. Even the children were somber. The annual dedication is always a bittersweet one, celebrating those who gave their lives in service to others while supporting their loved ones and colleagues.

“No one knows when that call may come, when you may have to put your life on the line,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who was a featured speaker at the event. “Even with the best gear, the best trucks, the best equipment, nothing is guaranteed in this life.”

Fire trucks near 15th Street and Jefferson (KTAR News/Kathy Cline)

One hundred and 34 of Arizona’s firefighters and paramedics have died since 1902. All of their names were read at Sunday’s ceremony. ​

Those names included the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. They died in the Yarnell Hill wildfire, near Prescott, in 2013. It was one of the state’s worst firefighter losses.

The Arizona Firefighter Memorial in Wesley Bolin Plaza was dedicated in 2015. All 134 names are there. Fifteen were put there just this past year – including retired Phoenix Fire Captain Crystal Rezzonico. She passed away in February, eight years after sustaining near-fatal injuries in an on-duty accident.

Brnovich said he’s well aware that losing colleagues – and the stress of the job – can exact a heavy price from first responders.

“Sometimes, when you work as a first responder long enough, it’s not just the physical toll. It’s the emotional toll…that mental stress that it can sometimes take on you and your families.

“It’s why we — as a state and as a community — need to ensure that we are doing everything to provide first responders and their families the care and the support that they need.”

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