KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville Fire Department, city leaders, and family members, gathering Wednesday for the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service. 

“At this annual memorial, we honor the 24 city firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty, dating back to 1875,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said.

“We also remember the 14 city firefighters who have passed away this past year,” she added. 

Pat Breeden is one of the many family members of former firefighters who came to Wednesday’s fallen firefighter memorial service. 

Pat’s husband Harlen Breeden worked for KFD for 30 years before he retired.  

“He loved being a firefighter,” she said. “We talked about it quite a bit. He didn’t reveal a lot of things that happened. I had to find that out from other firefighters. I think it’s kind of like servicemen. They don’t like to talk about things that have happened.” 

Harlen lived to be 80 years old. He’s one of the 38 firefighters who died either in the line of duty or after their time serving our community.  

“The fire department is like a large family and those are our brothers and our sisters who have passed away before us,” Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wilbanks said. “It’s important that we not only honor them, but we honor their families too for the sacrifices that those families made while they worked for the fire department.” 

They do this by the ringing of a bell and placing a rose in an urn for each member. During the ceremony Taps, Amazing Grace, and the Lord’s Prayer were also sung. At the end of the service, The Firefighter’s prayer was said.  

“They’re just a great group of guys who need to be honored more maybe than what they are,” Breeden said.

The service is held to let family members know they or their loved ones won’t be forgotten. Fire departments all over the country hold services like this one during fire prevention week. 

The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend will be May 4-5, 2024.