Ceremony brings hundreds together to honor fallen Kansas firefighters

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It was a moment to honor the fallen firefighters of Kansas.

On Sunday, the 15th Kansas Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony was held to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

All 120 fallen firefighters were read one by one.

Followed by the ringing of two bells and the laying of a rose in a bucket.

This years’ ceremony saw the addition of six new names to the memorial.

One of those was Cordell French, a volunteer firefighter who served with the Towanda Fire Rescue.

His mother, Jeanene, was in attendance for the ceremony.

“He had been on a training exercise that morning until the afternoon, he went home, he laid down and he died,” said French.

French expressed how much she still misses her son, 12 years after his death.

“He had such a passion for life, so I miss him so much,” said French.

More than 300 hundred people came out to the Kansas Firefighter Museum for this years’ ceremony.

The ceremony included the presentation of the colors, the singing of the national anthem and the playing of Taps.

Several city officials, including Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, addressed the crowd.

“Each name that has been engraved on this wall is a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend and a hero.,” said Longwell.

Longwell and others who spoke detailed the dangers each firefighter has to go through.

Derby Fire Chief Brad Smith says it is important that those who lost their lives in the line of duty aren’t forgotten.

“The possibility that one of these days, a loved one or a friend or a coworker could be on this wall, we don’t take life for granted,” said Smith.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial includes 16 Wichita firefighters and three from Sedgwick County.

The two youngest men killed on duty were Brandon Daley of Butler County Fire District #3 and Jared Moore of the Fairmount Township.

Daley was 19-years old when he died in 2007, Moore was also 19-years old when he died in 2004.

The list goes all the way back to 1887, when a Wichita firefighter died just one year after the department was organized.