Two firefighters bravely hose the flames of a roaring inferno at this colorful memorial in Willard Park. Dedicated in 2007, the sculpture was commissioned in 1993 by the Cleveland Fire Fighters Memorial Fund to honor the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in the line of duty. The sculpture was refurbished and rededicated in March 2019 to a large crowd of government officials, police, firefighters, and community supporters.
The Cleveland Fire Fighters Memorial Fund (CFFMF) was established in 1993 with the sole purpose of raising money to erect a memorial honoring the 77 firefighters who lost their lives or were fatally injured since the department was founded in 1863. The memorial fund was inspired after Cleveland Fire Department Chief, Walter Zimmerer, was aboard a city tour and the tour guide couldn’t provide any information on the existing firefighters’ memorial that stood adjacent to The Free Stamp monument in Willard Park. Zimmerer formed a committee and began drafting plans for a new monument to take the place of the three grey slabs that initially memorialized the city’s fallen heroes.
A payroll deduction was set up so that working firefighters would pay for most of the cost of the new memorial along with contributions from local grant-funding groups. Renowned sculptor Luis Jimenez, who was known for his colorful work, was chosen to complete the piece. The firefighters had grand plans to unveil the monument in March of 1996 and host an annual memorial service; however, a series of unfortunate events, including legal troubles, property management issues, and the death of the original sculptor prevented the memorial from reaching completion for nearly fourteen years. Today, the memorial brightens the path between Brown’s Stadium and the Science Center and celebrates the heroic efforts of those who fight to protect Cleveland communities.