CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for Fallen Firefighter Memorial
Contact: Chris Cate
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, today led a groundbreaking ceremony for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the grounds of the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. CFO Atwater was joined by Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, fire service professionals and families of fallen firefighters to mark the start of construction efforts on the memorial that will pay tribute to fire service personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Florida’s firefighters are heroes who sacrifice their safety every day to ensure the protection of others,” said CFO Atwater. “This memorial will serve as a reverent place to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, and be a place where their loved ones can come reflect and remember.”
“I am honored to join CFO Jeff Atwater and the Florida Cabinet to honor the legacy of Florida’s fallen firefighters and dedicate a special memorial in their remembrance,” said Governor Rick Scott. “It is important that we give thanks to these American heroes for their sacrifice.”
“This memorial will honor all fallen firefighters who selflessly risk their lives for others and remind us of the constant dangers that firefighters face each day in order to protect us, our loved ones, our homes, and our communities,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“The Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial will commemorate the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the safety of others,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, whose office oversees the wildland firefighters of the Florida Forest Service. “Just three years ago, the Florida Forest Service lost two of our own wildland firefighters, and we're proud to honor their service and sacrifice with this memorial.”
In late 2007, John “JJ” Curry, a Volusia County firefighter, was tragically killed during a training exercise. Due to a loophole in the law, his widow Kristen and son Owen were denied the death and health benefits afforded to the families of fire services members killed in the line of duty. In 2010, Kristen Curry led the charge to secure a change in the law that would extend benefits to include the families of firefighters killed during training exercises.
Moved by their family’s story, CFO Atwater invited Kristen and Owen Curry to participate in the dedication ceremony.
“I never thought that losing my husband could bring any kind of good, but being here today tells me a different story,” said Kristen Curry. “This memorial is something that we can always look back on with a smile, a place not only where my family can honor my husband, but many others who have lost the real life heroes in their lives."
“To have worked alongside Kristen Curry and others to secure the passage of legislation that extended death benefits to the families of fire service members killed in training was an impactful moment for me as a lawmaker,” said Representative Scott Plakon, R-Lake Mary. “This memorial will make an impact on so many lives, and I’m proud to once again rejoin her today to mark this momentous occasion.”
“It was an honor to be part of the Curry’s touching story by sponsoring legislation that closed a loophole and guaranteed full death benefits for firefighters killed during training exercises,” said Senator Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee. “I’m very proud that Kristen Curry is there today, alongside CFO Atwater and others to honor the late John ‘JJ’ Curry and all fire service personnel who have lost their lives in service to others.”
A resolution championed by CFO Atwater and signed by the Governor and Florida Cabinet in June 2013 endorsed the Fallen Firefighter Memorial and authorized the Florida Department of State and Florida Department of Management Services to designate the memorial’s location on the grounds of the state Capitol. A joint council compromised of fire service organizations, agencies and associations unanimously supported the project and these groups collectively participated in the design of the memorial and shall continue to oversee construction efforts.
The joint council is comprised of the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office, Florida Joint Council of Fire & Emergency Services, Florida State Firefighters Association, Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, Florida Fire Training Directors Association, Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association, Florida Emergency Preparedness Association, Florida Society of Fire Service Instructors, Florida Professional Firefighters and the Florida Fire Service.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).