This Weekend, Bells Will Ring to Pay Tribute to Fallen Firefighters

The National Bell Festival is honored to participate in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, the official national tribute to all firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Each year, thousands attend the event and watch the services online. Although we cannot be together in Emmitsburg in 2020, we can still honor and remember the lives of the 82 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2019.

On Sunday, October 4, 2020, bells will ring from coast to coast as a grateful nation pauses to honor those fallen heroes. Fire departments, places of worship, and other community organizations are invited to join in the reverent sound. 

What’s the connection between bells and firefighters?

Long before there were telephones and radios in use in America, fire departments utilized the telegraph to receive fire alarms from those once-familiar red fire alarm boxes which stood on practically every street corner of our nation’s cities. 

When a firefighter died in the line of duty, the Fire Alarm Office (the forerunner of today’s computerized Fire Communications Centers) would “tap out” a special signal, “Five-Five-Five” over the telegraph fire alarm circuits, which went to all station houses. Sent not only for notification, but also as a sign of honor and respect, the act has been a long-honored fire service tradition that continues in some cities today. 

We follow these traditions as symbols of honor and respect for those who have given so much and served so well. And so, for those who have selflessly devoted their lives for the good of their communities and fellow citizens, we invite you to ring along as the bells toll the last alarm to send the firefighters home.

Let them know you’re ringing!

Share your ringing story with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Bells can be rung at any time of day. The bells at the Memorial Chapel will ring at approximately 10:00am Eastern to begin America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters. You might also consider a moment of silence, a brief prayer, a hymn, a bell toll by members of the fire department, or any combination of these to pay your respects.