Hundreds of firefighters and their relatives convened in Springfield Tuesday to honor the heroism of those in the profession past and present. The annual ceremony honored two firefighters who died last year. The Alton Fire Department was also honored with the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty.
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Chris Brown of the Bloomington Fire Department was struck by a vehicle while attending to an accident. Lawrence Stone of the West Union Community Fire Protection District in Clark County died from injuries he sustained while driving to a fire. Gov. Pat Quinn was part of the event honoring them and their families. “Their loved ones gave their last full measure of devotion to our safety and I think it’s important that we remember every day the heroism of our firefighters,” he said.
Forty-four firefighters or departments were recognized. Seven firefighters were given the Medal of Honor Award – the highest recognition given to firefighters in the state.
Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis says picking who to recognize can be a challenge. “It’s very difficult to weed them out because what we do every day happens to be bravery, honor, honesty,” he said.