Memorial Service Kicks Off Fire Prevention Week

Thousands of people attended a memorial service in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to remember 99 firefighters who died in the line of duty last year.

The ceremony was filled with rich fire service tradition, complete with an honor guard and the solemn sound of a bag pipe. A tribute to those who live their lives saving others.

"Firefighting is a job that has the markings of heroism all over it. It takes courage to plunge into a burning building when everyone else is running out," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Captain Tony Murphy of the Biloxi Fire Station Number 2 has possessed that courage for 15 years.

Over the years, he has learned his job as a "hero" is a tougher task than he first imagined.

"I've learned it's a lot different than what I thought it was. There's a lot of work you know. There's a lot of training that goes into the job and a lot of sacrifice. You know, men have to be away from their families a lot. There's 24-hour shifts you work, there's going to schools, there's all kind of things involved in being a firefighter today," said Murphy.

Fortunately, he and his crew have not lost a fellow teammate, but Murphy says the loss of any firefighter, whether you know the person or not, is like losing a part of your family.

"It makes you work smarter. It makes you give a little more thought before you act. You know, make sure you know what you're doing before you put you or your crew in a position where they could either get hurt or lose their life," said Murphy.

It's a tough job, but encouragement from the community makes it a bit easier.

"Just support them. You know, they're doing a tough job , you know what it's about, I think the public as a whole knows more about what it's about nowadays, just be there for them," said Murphy.

This year's Fire Prevention Week theme is "When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!".

President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week in 1925.