DC Fire Department, relatives remember fallen firefighters – NBC4 Washington

This year, the DC Fire and EMS Department will commemorate 150 years of service to the nation’s capital, and on Saturday the department honored the 101 firefighters who lost their lives performing the service.

In a solemn ceremony at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Northwest, as fire engines stood outside, the fire department remembered the dead.

Among those remembered was one of the first victims, firefighter Benjamin Grenup, who was run over by a fire wagon in 1856 while responding to a fire in a stable on 7th Street NW. His headstone in Glenwood Cemetery bears a depiction of the incident, a firefighter crushed under the weight.

A bell rang for Grenup and all those who died serving the District – like Angelique Williams-Wilkinson’s father, John T. Williams.

Williams-Wilkinson was just 8 when he died, but even as a child she knew it was dangerous work.

“But I knew he loved doing it. He went there on his days off, but I never thought it would happen to him,” she said.

John Williams’ name is shown in a telephone booth at 14th and H Street NW, across from where he died on December 19, 1984. The neighborhood was still a red-light district and a fire broke out in a theater on blocking it.

Williams fell through an overhang and into a basement while searching for trapped victims.

“He did something he loved doing, and that was helping others,” his daughter said.

The service addressed the sad camaraderie between families who have experienced this kind of loss.

Lysa Phillips has known this since her husband Anthony Phillips died, along with firefighter Louis Matthews, battling the same blaze in 1999.

“It’s just a moment of course that brings back memories. However, it’s just the love the department has for our family members, she said.

The motorcade left the church, marching past fire trucks bearing the names of the deceased crew members who made them up – sobering reminders of the dangers of the work and the dedication of those who do it.