Firefighter, EMS memorial pays tribute to fallen

Memorial, which represents nine counties, to be dedicated Sunday.

CENTERVILLE — Eighteen years of hard work will come to fruition when the Miami Valley Firefighter/EMS Memorial will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, at Stubbs Park in Centerville.

The idea for the memorial came from firefighters Rod Longpre and Darrell Perkins.

“The memorial honors all fallen fire and EMS personnel in nine counties of the Miami Valley,” Longpre said. “It is a memorial to all those who have lost their lives, and we hope it will be a source of inspiration for those who still serve in their communities.”

Longpre said he is very relieved to have the memorial in place.

“I have selfish reasons why I want to see this happen,” he said. “My friend, Patrick Yahle, a very conscientious firefighter, was killed after an explosion in 1988. It was probably the most profound and horrifying experience that I’ve ever been involved in. It really has been driving force behind this.”

Longpre and Perkins have held yearly memorial services since 1992, and will hold a service at the dedication Sunday.

Steve King, who has worked with the firefighters on this project since 2006, said the memorial is unique because it is the only multi-jurisdictional firefighter memorial nationwide. It will serve Butler, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby and Warren counties.

There are 67 names on the memorial, King said, going back to the 1800s.

“I hope we never have to add any more names to the memorial,” Longpre said. “But, sadly, that is part of the job. Not everybody comes home.”

Longpre added that the sculpture for the memorial is unique. It was chosen by a juried arts competition in 2007.

“It’s not a literal rendering,” he said. “It is not the typical bronze sculpture of a firefighter holding a child, or a pair of fire boots and helmet. You can show it to 20 different people and get 20 different interpretations.”

The artwork is by local artist Jon Barlow Hudson, who King said has artwork displayed in 24 countries — including in Olympic Park in Beijing.

The location was chosen after sites at Sinclair Community College, RiverScape and Carillon Park fell through.

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