The firefighters' memorial
May 23, 2018
The names of five firefighters were added to the memorial walls at the Wyoming Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Riverton over the weekend.
Fifty nine surviving family members of thone named attended to lay a rose at the memorial and an estimated 100 firefighters were in attendance. Casper Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums played at the memorial and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso served as a keynote speaker.
Representing Green River Fire Department at the memorial were volunteer firefighters Tom Murphy, Bryan Carpenter, and Jaime Walgren and had the honor of raising the Wyoming flag at the ceremony. Barrasso shared a story of when he was presented his first challenge coin from Gen. David Patraeus. The senator had his own challenge coins created and brought some to the memorial, giving the three Green River firefighters a challenge coin each.
The Wyoming Fallen Firefighter Memorial concept was proposed to state associations after the heavy fire seasons of 1987 and 1988; when many firefighters lost their lives.
The memorial is dedicated to those Firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their community.
The memorial itself incorporates stones from across all 23 counties of Wyoming, the Wind River Reservation, the state’s national forests and two national parks.
Four of the firefighters died in the line of duty from occupational related cancer and the fifth died in the line of duty during flood abatement operations. The International Association of Firefighters says cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters, reporting it has caused 61 percent of career firefighter line of duty deaths since 2002.
A few decades back asbestos-related cancers were most commonly diagnosed in firefighters. Today it’s more often leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.
A big contributor to the elevated cancer rate is the synthetics, plastics and chemicals that coat firefighters in a toxic soot as these materials burn.
The Green River Fire Department has taken steps to mitigate this hazard to our own firefighters and will continue to work to reduce the risks this issue presents.
The five names added to the wall are:
Capt. Jeffery Atkinson, Casper
Capt. Mike Tepe, Jackson
Fire Investigator Kenneth Sexton, WSFMO,
Capt. Matthew Trott, Casper
Fire Chief Paul Murdoch, Greybull