On March 6, ground will break on the first statewide memorial dedicated to the courage and memory of Arizona firefighters and paramedics who gave their lives in service of others. To date, 105 firefighters and paramedics have lost their lives in Arizona since 1902.
Two Arizona sculptors – Rusty Bowers from Mesa and Paul Olesniewicz from Tucson – are creating 10 life-size bronze sculptures as part of the memorial representing wildland firefighters, paramedics, volunteers and professional firefighters, male and female, representing the diverse culture of the state.
A bell tower and removal seating for 400 will be part of the memorial, but mostly the memorial will be a quiet place to consider the sacrifice and dedication of those firefighters who gave their lives on behalf of Arizona and its families.
In May 2013, Gov. Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2136, sponsored by Rep. Bob Robson, authorizing the construction of a statewide memorial on Wesley Bolin Plaza to commemorate the loss of 105 firefighters and paramedics in Arizona since 1902. Arizona is one of only nine states without a statewide memorial. Once completed, this memorial will be one of only a handful of state memorials commemorating wildland firefighters, paramedics, volunteers and professional firefighters.
Approximately $950,000 has been raised for the memorial via corporate contributions, about $70,000 has been raised from individual contributions and $150,000 has been contributed via in-kind donations from the project design and construction team. The total project cost is $1.7 million; no public or taxpayer funds are being utilized in this effort.
The project design and construction team includes: United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association (memorial proponent), SmithGroupJJR (design), Rusty Bowers and Paul Olesniewicz (sculpture), Coe & Van Loo Consultants and PK Associates (engineering), and McCarthy Building Companies and partners (construction).
The memorial is expected to be completed in September 2015 and will be celebrated with a formal dedication in October.