WEST BLOCTON, Ala. (WIAT) — Four fallen Alabama firefighters will be honored at a memorial service this weekend at the National Fire Academy in Maryland.
A ceremony will be put on by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
The Alabama firefighters who will be honored are:
Lieutenant Clint Hardemon, 58, of the West Blocton Volunteer Fire Department. Hardemon died in August 2017 from a heart attack hours after responding to a structure fire.
Fire Chief Tracy L. Sanders, 44, of the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department in Calhoun County. Sanders died in January 2017 from injuries suffered in a car wreck.
Fire Chief Eddie P. Harris, 47, of the North Courtland Volunteer Fire Department. Harris died in April 2017 after becoming ill during a training burn.
Lieutenant Christopher Lane Foster, 54, of the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department. Foster died in March 2017 from cardiac arrest. The incident happened within 24 hours of responding to a motor vehicle wreck during his shift.
All of the firefighter’s names will be added to the national memorial during a service Sunday.
Lt. Hardemon’s son, CJ, is also a firefighter, currently serving as West Blocton’s Assistant Fire Chief. He and West Blocton Fire Chief Joe McCool plan to attend the event.
“Since he has passed away, we’ve all lost something. We feel like a part of us is gone,” said Chief Joe McCool.
McCool remembers the day he lost his friend and colleague.
“He said, man I feel dizzy and he fell back. I kneeled down to check on him and then started calling for help,” said McCool.
Hours after responding to a structure fire, Hardemon had a heart attack and later died.
“I loved him, and I wish he would come back,” said CJ Hardemon.
Hardemon said his father joined the fire department after he did.
“Actually my dad followed in my footsteps, I was a firefighter first and then he became that,” said Hardemon.
It did not take long until both shared the same passion.
“Every since he joined he’s just, he’s fell in love with it, he really loved helping this community,” said Hardemon.
This weekend, the greater community will say thank you. Hardemon’s name will join 103 others on a stone marker at a national ceremony in Maryland.”
The main component is that moment in time when that family knows that the entire nation is watching their firefighter recognized at the footsteps of the National Firefighter’s Memorial,” said Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Chief Tracy Sanders from the Mt. Olive Volunteer Fire Department in Calhoun County will also be remembered. Sanders died from injuries in a car wreck in 2017.
The NFFF is providing transportation and lodging to the families of the fallen so they can see the ceremony.
In a sometimes thankless job, Hardemon said it means a lot to know there are neighbors who appreciate the ultimate sacrifice to keep others safe.
“It’s not just the people in our community that say thank you, obviously it is the whole nation. We’re just from a small town in Alabama and it is nice to see that it went national,” said Hardemon.
To learn more about the NFFF, click here.