WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is holding the Annual Memorial Weekend on October 2 and 3, 2021. A total of five men from the Capital Region are being honored, including one D.C. Firefighters who died in October of 2019.
A 17-year veteran to D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Alex Graham, was focused on safety.
D.C. Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly explained, “He took on our small tools and ladders program. The ladders have to be tested all the time, and he took that on. It’s a safety thing. That’s what Alex was about.”
Graham was a firefighter technician who dedicated his life to fire service, starting out as a volunteer and working his way up.
“(He was) someone who really understood the Fire Department and made it better,” said Chief Donnelly
October 2021 marks two years since Graham collapsed while testing pumps at the training academy.
Chief Donnelly said, “When Alex collapsed, he was surrounded by people who knew CPR. He had ALS support care right away with medicine and all the things you can do to help someone in a cardiac emergency.”
Even with the best-case scenario for a medical response, Graham’s medical emergency was too severe to survive.
The memorial weekend marks a time for his family to finally gain closure in honoring him.
The Executive Director for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Ron Siarnicki, said, “We are going to do everything we can to let firefighter Graham’s family know that there is a grateful nation for the sacrifice he made and that there is an organization here to help put things back together with his loss.”
Chief Donnelly said, “I’m so glad we are able to close this chapter to move into the next one and help the family grieve.”
The memorial weekend includes a candlelight vigil on Saturday and a special ceremony Sunday for families to be recognized individually and have a chance to see their loved ones’ names on the memorial.
Chief Donnelly explained, “It’s like a gravestone in a sense. They’ll be able to go there in the future and do that and see that. It doesn’t have to be part of a ceremony and they will always be able to see it.”
Anyone interested can watch the memorial weekend events on a live stream at live.firehero.org.