CFO Atwater's Dollars & Sense Newsletter

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to Open Fallen Firefighter Memorial at State Capitol

CFO Atwater speaks at ribbon cuttingFlorida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who also serves as Florida's State Fire Marshal, on Tuesday led a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of a permanent fallen firefighter memorial at the Florida State Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. CFO Atwater was joined by a crowd of more than 400 consisting of public leaders, fire service professionals and families of fallen firefighters. The event and memorial pay tribute to fire service personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Fallen Firefighter Memorial Plaque"We will never feel the unbearable heat of a flame that spares none, see someone's home and belongings burning around us, nor hear the cracks and roars of an advancing fire and choose not to run away from it, but to run into it," said CFO Atwater. "But the 181 men and women whose names are etched into this memorial have lived - and died - so that we never had to know."

"I wish that there was no need for these memorials, that all of our bravest returned home," said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. "Instead, the Firefighter Memorial monument will be a place where the family and friends of those we have lost can gather to reflect and remember their loved ones, and for fellow firefighters to visit and honor the sacrifices of their fallen comrades."Veiled Memorial before service

The program included reflections by family and friends of fallen firefighters.

"The bond between firefighters is unbreakable," said North Port Fire Rescue Firefighter Kevin Barnes, who spoke about the loss of his friend and colleague Lt. Jeffrey Newland. "I considered Lt. Newland more than a boss, but a friend and a brother."

"His heart was as big as he was," said Andrew Keppler of his father John Keppler, a volunteer firefighter in Flagler County, who was lost in the line of duty in 2002. "He loved his family and friends. Passionate about his craft, he was firemens' fireman."

The ribbon cutting.This memorial serves as a permanent place of reverence for loved ones, colleagues and all Floridians to remember those fire service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the life, health and safety of their fellow Floridians. Each of the 181 names engraved on the memorial represents an individual who gave his or her life in the last 130 years of Florida's fire service history. This memorial will remain illuminated and open to the public at all times, and all who visit Florida's capital city are encouraged to visit.Unveiling the Memorial

"On behalf of the Florida Joint Council of Fire and Emergency Services and the Capitol Memorial Committee members, I am so very thankful for the outpouring of support we have received and continue to receive to make this project a reality," said Chief John Fish, Chairman of the Joint Council of Fire and Emergency Services. "This Firefighter Memorial monument will serve as a very fitting and lasting tribute to honor our fallen brothers and sisters."

"The Florida Fire and Emergency Services Foundation is proud to be a partner in helping Tracing the names of loved onesto establish a memorial to those that have given their lives in carrying out their duties," said Chief Mike Long, Chairman of the Florida Fire and Emergency Services Foundation. "We will continue to help fulfill the vision of a memorial that truly reflects the sacrifice made by those who paid the ultimate price in the service to their communities and the state."

A resolution sponsored by CFO Atwater and signed by the Governor and Florida Cabinet in June 2013 endorsed the fallen firefighter memorial and designated its location on the grounds of the state Capitol. Construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony held in December 2014 based on a design shaped by a joint council of fire service organizations, agencies and associations. This first phase was erected in four months, and the joint council will continue to oversee the final design and 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.

Watch a replay of this moving service.


CFO Atwater and Director Julius Halas.  Officers addressing the ribbon cutting crowd.
Ribbon cutting speaker.  Officers at ribbon cutting.  CFO Atwater at the ribbon cutting.
Tracing names of loved ones.   Tracing the names of loved ones.   The flames of the memorial.
Ribbon cutting speaker.  Speaker at the ribbon cutting.  Child tracing name. 
Honor guard.  Honor guard.  Honor guard.
Florida Department of Financial Services