John Timmers, 91, whose firefighter father was killed while on a run in 1916, is escorted to the wreath -placing ceremony by Acting Chief Michael Wolever during the memorial service at Chub DeWolfe Park.
John Timmers never knew his father.
The 91-year-old Toledoan was just a few months old when his dad, a city firefighter, was killed in an accident downtown en route to a blaze in 1916.
The 28-year-old hoseman, who has the same name as his only child, was on an engine as it traveled down a rain-slicked street. The rig slipped on the wet pavement, and the firefighter jumped from the rear of the vehicle when he saw it was going to crash into a building.
He tried to escape being crushed. Instead, a news report said, he slipped and fell on the pavement into the path of the rear wheels, which ran over him.
To the somber sound of a fire bell rung by Lt. Richard Knight, Toledo honors its fallen firefighters in a tradition-filled ceremony at the fire department memorial downtown.
Yesterday, his son remembered him and other fallen firefighters when he presented a wreath during the 46th annual fire memorial service downtown.
"I was thrilled," Mr. Timmers said of the service, attended by more than 100 people, including several generations of his family. "I never expected anything like this."
The service commemorates a gasoline truck explosion and fire June 10, 1961, on the Anthony Wayne Trail that killed four firefighters and burned10 others.
The somber service, which included the reading of the names of 43 fallen firefighters and six who died in World War II, ended on several happy notes.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced the renaming of fire headquarters and Beech Street in honor of retired Fire Chief Mike Bell.
Former Fire Chief Mike Bell, now Ohio fire marshal, is congratulated by his father Norm and mother, Ora, as a street and the fire department headquarters are named in his honor.
In addition, attendees caught the first glimpse of the three final designs to replace the aging firefighters' memorial in Chub DeWolfe Park, where the service was held.
Mr. Finkbeiner said Toledoans owe the former fire chief, now Ohio's fire marshal, "a profound debt of gratitude."
Then, a street sign reading "Beech Street" on top and "Michael P. Bell Way" on the bottom was unrolled. A banner renaming headquarters the "Michael P. Bell Fire Administration Building" was unfurled from the building's roof.
"I take this honor in honor of our fire service. It's what I'm dedicated to and will be for the rest of my life," the retired chief said.
He and others then filed into the garage of the newly renamed headquarters to review the finalists to replace the current memorial.
Many liked the design by Paula Slater of California and Brad Bourgoyne of Louisiana that includes sculptures of firefighters shooting water onto steel flames and incorporates an eternal flame and replica of the existing pylon.
"I like the life-size figures. I think it depicts the fire department for what they are," said Pat Arthur, who said her father's name is on the existing marker.
An old-time helmet, at left, was on display at the service.
A design by Norman Lee of Texas depicts panels forming a passage and a timeline bench sandblasted with Toledo Firefighter Museum photographs.
The third proposal is by sculptor Hai Ying Wu, of Washington state and China, who created the Electric Auto-Lite memorial in North Toledo. It depicts four firefighters atop boulders with an American flag on a nearby flagpole.
Mr. Wu, 45, who is currently in China, responded yesterday to e-mail questions about his design. He said he has a strong interest in firefighter memorial projects and has created several of them throughout the country.
"The inspiration of the design is from the well-known picture that [was] taken after [the] 9/11 incident," he wrote. "A firefighter standing on a pile of ruins, raising an American flag."
Mr. Wu said his sculpture is "powerful yet with a spirit of humanity," is timeless with a contemporary approach, and fits in an urban environment.
In earlier ceremonies yesterday, the fire department promoted four officers and gave awards to others.
Bryce Blair, who has been with the department since 1993, was promoted to captain. Promoted to lieutenant were: Angela Magers, Michael Mowka, and Karen Marquardt, all of whom joined the ranks in 1996.
The awards and those receiving them were:
Letters to file: Lt. Chris Hanna, Timothy Worthy, Denny Pickett, and Gregory Lindner, of Engine No. 25's company, and Edward Granados, Thomas Phillips, Douglas Brunner, and Mark Wietrzykowski, of Truck No. 9's company.
Letters of appreciation: Lt. Timothy Clapp and Mark Wietrzykowski
Certificates of special recognition: Jeffery Lee, Daniel O'Leary, Kari Gonzalez, Timothy Furey, Sharyl Close, and James Ferguson
Lifesaving award: Robert Kendrick
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