KINGDOM CITY — In an unusual year, the Fire Fighters Association of America wanted to make sure one important tradition wasn’t forgotten.
Each year, FFAM hosts a memorial service at the Missouri Fire Fighters Memorial in Kingdom City. During that event, firefighters who fell in the line of duty during the previous year are honored, as are firefighters past and present who died of other causes. Typically this event occurs in May, but due to COVID-19, it was rescheduled to September, then to October — now as a virtual service.
“It means so much to me and to the fire service to honor those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and those who’ve served,” said Sherwood Smith, president emeritus of the Missouri State Council of Firefighters.
On Friday, participants from the FFAM and a number of area fire departments gathered at the memorial to film the service. It’ll be shared via FFAM’s Facebook page (facebook.com/FFAMo) and YouTube page (still under construction) on Oct. 11.
“This thing is important because the fire service is (full of) camaraderie, brotherhood and sisterhood,” said Ken Hoover, president of the FFAM board. “We take up for each other.”
Three firefighters were commemorated for their deaths in the line of Duty on Friday. During the ceremony, a bell was tolled three times for each of the fallen, representing their last call. Each of the three were represented by a set of equipment from their fire department, placed below a wreath.
Also recognized were 59 other firefighters or former firefighters who died during 2019, who each received one toll of the bell. High above, a giant American flag waved, hoisted aloft by ladder trucks from the Columbia and Mexico fire departments. Other participating departments included the Fulton Fire Department and the Boone County Fire Protection District.
“It’s an honor to be able to do something to commemorate the officers who’ve died in the line of duty,” said John Cunning, who volunteers with the BCFPD’s Pipes and Drums.
The firefighters whose names are being added to the Fire Fighters Line of Duty Memorial Wall are:
• Capt. Timothy Travis Owens, 51, St. Joseph Fire Department, March 28, 2019. Owens, a 25-year veteran of the department, as well as an Army veteran and former EMT, passed away of cancer related to his time in service.
• Firefighter-paramedic Christopher R. Moore, 42, Maryland Heights Fire Protection District, June 8, 2019. Moore began his fire service career in 1991 as a Junior Firefighter with the Metro West Fire Protection District. He then served as a volunteer firefighter with the Eureka Fire Protection District in 1995 and was promoted to a career Firefighter in 1998. In 2001, firefighter paramedic Moore started his professional career with the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District, where he served 17 years. Moore suffered a medical emergency June 6 while on duty and died two days later.
• Chief Jack “Allyn” Reding, 63, Duenweg Volunteer Fire Department, July 5, 2019. Reding and other members of his department responded to a mutual-aid call for a structure fire. A few hours after returning from the call, Reding collapsed at his residence from a heart attack. Reding spent 49 years with the Duenweg department, becoming its chief in 1998.