Arizona Firefighters & Emergency Paramedics History
In the 1880’s, Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and other cities and towns were little more than dusty spots on our territorial map. But several towns, including numerous mining towns had already suffered from conflagrations that destroyed large numbers of buildings and dwellings. The towns were unprepared to fight such fires. In the late 1880’s, several towns started volunteer fire companies and purchased equipment to fight fires. In the 1890’s the first fire stations were constructed and by the turn of that century, some of the towns began hiring the first firefighters. In 1912 Arizona became a state and by 1914, many of the horse-drawn carriages were replaced with motorized fire vehicles.
In 1902, the first firefighter death in the line of duty was recorded in Tucson with the death of Firefighter William Katzenstein. Since that time, more than 100 years later, 119 firefighters & paramedics have lost their lives in the line of duty. With nearly 250,000 emergency calls annually, firefighters across the state face the reality of danger every time they respond to a call. Fire Departments have modernized their equipment, communications, techniques and response times. But the reality of danger is always there.
Today, firefighters are called upon in many ways – to extinguish blazes in homes and businesses, to respond to medical emergencies, to rescue stranded hikers, perform swift water rescues, and fight massive wildland fires covering tens of thousands of acres.
In 1973, eleven members of the Kingman Fire Department lost their lives in a single explosion. In 1990, six firefighters lost their lives in a massive wild fire. In 2013, 19 Prescott Hot Shots lost their lives in the Yarnell Fire. Fallen firefighters include men and women of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds. Fire does not discriminate and the death of these firefighters leaves behind a community in mourning, parents without children, spouses without husbands and wives and children without fathers and mothers.
The Arizona Firefighters & Emergency Paramedics Memorial will provide a place to remember their sacrifices, reflect on the loss of each of these 119 Fallen and provide space to remember those whose lives will be sacrificed in the future protecting our lives, our homes, businesses and families.