Bells Across America is a nationwide, annual event that was originally organized by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and is now in its second year:
"The sound of a bell holds special significance for firefighters. Historically, the toll of a bell summoned members to the station, signaled the beginning of a shift, notified departments of a call for help, and indicated a call was completed and the unit had returned to the station.
Departments sounded a series of bells when a firefighter died in the line of duty to alert all members that a comrade had made the ultimate sacrifice. This time-honored tradition continues today during the funerals or memorial services for firefighters."
From coast to coast, fire departments and their places of worship joined the NFFF for the Second Annual Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, part of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
On Sunday, October 7th, the East Haddam Volunteer Fire Department in conjunction with St. Bridget's Church in Moodus, organized a special memorial mass to recognize and honor firefighters that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
"It's very important to recognize our firefighters, who risk their lives every day for others. This memorial mass is offered as a way to help them deal with the losses of their brothers and sisters in service, and gives parishioners a chance to show appreciation for their local firefighters," explained Father Greg Galvin.
Galvin also included "The Fireman's Prayer" as part of the service:
When I am called to duty, God whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it is too late,
Or perhaps some older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and give the best in me,
To always guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to Your will I have to lose my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand my children and my wife.
A few moments of silence were observed during the mass as parishioners bowed their heads in silent prayer, and bells tolled in honor of the fallen.
According to East Haddam Fire Officer, Lt. Bryan Kane, who was in charge of coordinating this local event with the church, "It has always been a tradition to honor our fellow firefighters who 'never made it back to the station'. Firefighters consistently put their own lives on the line for others and their families, and we want to remember and recognize them for their sacrifice."