George Curlin of Pine Bluff has seen his son’s name etched on memorials honoring fallen firefighters in Colorado and
Maryland, and he’s looking forward to seeing it a little closer to home in the state where he died doing what he loved.
On March 22, a dedication will be held for the new $1.2 million Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the state Capitol grounds.
About 3,000 people are expected to attend, including Curlin and relatives of several of the fallen. Curlin’s son, David, was a
lieutenant and 14-year veteran of the Pine Bluff Fire Department when he was critically injured on Jan. 3, 2010, when a wall fell on him while fighting a structure fire in that southeastern Arkansas city.
The 40-year-old father of three died four months later from his injuries.
“I have a place in Arkansas now that I can visit and touch my son’s name on a wall,” said Curlin, a retired restaurant operator, about the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial. He said he has visited the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colo., several times, as well as the national memorial in Emmitsburg, Md.
The Arkansas memorial includes four bronze statues of firefighters and is on the west side of the state Capitol lawn between the state Department of Education building and the building that houses the state Department of Parks and Tourism. The statute is 11 feet 6 inches tall, and with the four foot high base it stands 16 feet tall.
The memorial features the names of 99 Arkansas firefighters who have died in the line-of-duty since 1889.
Johnny Reep, chairman of the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial, said Mena firefighter Odell Egger, who died in 1987, will be added to the memorial later this year. The Mena Fire Department submitted Egger’s name in the fall but it was too late to add it to the memorial before the March dedication.
Egger’s name will be read with the other 99, Reep said, adding said the names of two other firefighters who have died in the line-of-duty in Barling and Wilson were recently discovered and could added to the list later this year.
The four statutes in the memorial each represent different periods in history — post Civil War, modern firefighter with a breathing apparatus, the wild land firefighter, the current fireman/paramedic.
The memorial also includes a water fountain and Reep said Lisenne Rockefeller, wife of the late-Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, who served as finance chairman for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial, will switch on the fountain near the end of the dedication ceremony.