Bells Across America Honors Firefighters Who Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice

Posted by Extreme Tactical Dynamics on Jun 29th 2019

For the past 35 years, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) has held a memorial weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland in early October. The event is designed to honor all firefighters who have passed, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the previous year.

Why are Bells Rung to Honor Fallen Firefighters?

The sound of bells is significant to every firefighter across the United States for many reasons. Historically, fire departments ring bells to:

  • Summon firefighters to the station
  • Signal the beginning of a shift
  • Request help from other departments
  • Signal the end of a shift
  • Signify all trucks have returned to the station

bells-2016-300x600A series of bells also can be heard if a firefighter dies in the line of duty. In this instance, the bell ringing is to let everyone know that a brother or sister has made the ultimate sacrifice while trying to save others.

What’s Different About this Year?

This year's event is different to previous ones because of the Federal Government's decision to recognize Public Safety Officer deaths related to 9/11 as "line of duty deaths." Two firefighters who died in 2015 due to 9/11-related illnesses will also be remembered during the bell ringing ceremony and added to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Wall.

The inclusion of men and women who died as a result of 9/11-related deaths explains why the number of firefighters who will be honored during this ceremony is higher than years past. In 2015, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will honor 79 firefighters.

More About the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend

Over the two-day event, more than 5,000 firefighters, their families, and the general public will attend. The bell-ringing ceremony will take place on October 9th at 10 am in Emmitsburg. Other guests expected at the event include members of Congress, Administrative Officials, and Firefighter Honor Guards and Pipe and Drum units from across the United States.

For those that cannot attend, a live feed will be aired. But you don’t have to attend the Maryland event or even tune into the live feed to take part. Instead, you can organize or attend a local Bells Across America event in your hometown. In fact, the NFFF is encouraging fire stations all over the US to hold their own hometown event.

How to Take Part in Bells Across America in your Hometown

This year, the NFFF is hoping to have bells rung from coast to coast during the memorial weekend. Keep reading to learn why the bell ringing is significant to firefighters everywhere and how your community can take part in the event.

For months, fire departments and their places of worship have been working with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in anticipation of the memorial weekend. Many communities and agencies have committed to ring bells during the weekend, but the NFFF would like to see the participation of even more.

And, there's still time to organize your own event.

To take part in this year’s Bell Across America event, local fire departments can ask the churches in their community to ring a series of bells during the weekend of October 8th and 9th. The official bell ringing ceremony in Emmitsburg will take place on the 9th, but private services in firefighter’s hometown can ring anytime during the weekend.

If you have more questions about the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend or how your community can take part in the Bells Across America Memorial, you can reach the organization at

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