Click HERE for Senator Collins’ remarks
Augusta, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks at the 2019 Maine State Firefighter Memorial Service, which is held by the Maine State Federation of Firefighters annually during National Fire Prevention Week at the Firefighters Memorial in Augusta. A roll call of names was read of all Maine firefighters that passed away during the previous year and memorial plaques were displayed. The event was attended by approximately 100 firefighters, their friends and families, and government leaders.
“It is significant that here, in the shadow of our State House, stand monuments to our fallen first responders: the firefighters, law-enforcement officers, and emergency medical personnel who gave their all to protect people throughout Maine,” said Senator Collins. “In a few minutes, the names of the 22 Maine firefighters we lost during the past year will be read and for each, the bell will be rung. Whether they were on duty or retired, every name belongs to a hero who will always be remembered. Every ring of the bell is an echo, not just of who they were, but of the dedication that all firefighters share and of the gratitude that unites all whom they serve.”
“This annual memorial service is always powerful and inspiring. It has a special significance this year. Just two weeks ago, Farmington Fire Captain Michael Bell gave his life responding to a terrible tragedy in the town he loved so dearly and defended with such courage and devotion,” Senator Collins continued. “Our thoughts are with the other firefighters, including Michael’s brother the Fire Chief, and the maintenance manager critically injured in the massive explosion in Farmington. We pray for their recovery. When I visited Farmington, there was Acting Fire Chief Tim Hardy already on the job, despite his own injuries and those of his son who is still hospitalized. This spring, Berwick Fire Captain Joel Barnes made the ultimate sacrifice battling a fire in his community. Chief Gary Sacco of Oxford passed away at Joel’s funeral. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of these heroes – both their families at home and their brothers and sisters at the firehouse.”
October 6-12 is National Fire Prevention Week. This year’s fire prevention campaign is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape." In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, beginning a tradition of the President of the United States signing a proclamation recognizing the occasion.
As co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Senator Collins has been an advocate for Maine's first responders, fighting hard to ensure they have the resources and support necessary to protect lives and property. She championed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, enacted in 2018, which calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters to determine if there is a link, and develop better protective gear and techniques. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins helped ensure that $1 million was provided to the CDC in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill to establish the registry. She also leads annual efforts in the Senate to secure robust funding for the FIRE and SAFER federal grant programs every year in the appropriations process. These programs help provide fire departments with important equipment and personnel. In FY 2017, more than $3 million in grant funding was awarded to Maine fire departments through these programs, including a nearly $516,000 SAFER grant for the Bangor Fire Department.
In 2013, Senator Collins was named Legislator of the Year by the Congressional Fire Services Institute for her advocacy.