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Family members, governor to dedicate firefighter memorial

More than 4,000 people, including families of Minnesota firefighters who died in the line of duty, Governor Mark Dayton and statewide fire officials will gather on the state Capitol grounds to dedicate the newly installed Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

The ceremony will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 30, Minnesota's recently designated Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day. The names of the 206 Minnesota firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1881 will be inscribed on columns throughout the memorial on the south side of the Capitol grounds. Each firefighter's family will receive a Minnesota state flag that has been flown over the state Capitol.

In 2011, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol.

International architecture/engineering firm Leo A Daly is providing design, project management and cost estimation services to create the new memorial while Westwood Professional Services is responsible for survey and civil engineering.

The 6,000-square-foot memorial incorporates several distinctive design features within a landscaped garden and paved assembly area. The main focal point is a large monolith supported by a grid of steel columns that houses the Minnesota Fire Service Memorial Statue. This bronze sculpture of a firefighter rescuing a child is lit by natural light through a circular void in the monolith.

The 19,000-pound monolith, measuring 22 by 28 feet, was fabricated by EDR, Ltd., of Siren, Wisconsin, and installed by crane on September 7. The bronze statue at the center of the memorial was refinished by its original sculptor, Douglas Freeman, at Casting Creations of Minnesota in Howard Lake.

The monolith is made of weathering steel, which rusts over time to form a protective coating, a process analogous to the oxidation of fire.

The organizing grid of 100 potential pavilion columns embodies a repeating century of years in which Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. The names of each of Minnesota's fallen firefighters are inscribed on the columns. The design allows for new columns to be added onto the grid for additional inscriptions in the future, making it a living monument instead of a snapshot in time.

The memorial ground rises to present approaching visitors with a wall inscribed with names of the 791 fire departments throughout the state. The site's landscaped garden and paved area provides a space for quiet contemplation. Additionally, a sculpted wooden bench with a burned finish provides a place for people to sit and reflect.

The Fire Service successfully raised $600,000 to fund the memorial through donations from the public, Minnesota businesses and, primarily, from the state's firefighting community.

Financial contributions to the fundraising effort can be sent to Minnesota Fire Service Foundation c/o Flagship Bank, 7525 Office Ridge Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3644.

All contributions are tax deductible. Donations exceeding the goal will fund educational scholarships for children of active, retired or deceased firefighters and for spouses of deceased firefighters.

For more information or to donate online, visit