Minnesota remembers its fallen firefighters


Minnesotans around the state are coming together Sunday to remember firefighters who died in the line of duty.

A service to honor the 213 firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1881 is held annually on the last Sunday of September. Gov. Mark Dayton ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Sunday in honor of National Firefighters Memorial Day.

"Firefighters risk their lives every day and night to protect our lives and property," Dayton said in a news release. "Today, we thank all Minnesota firefighters for their courageous service, and we honor the sacrifices of the heroes who have given their lives for us."

Dayton, along with Sen. Al Franken, and about 1,000 others are expected to attend a 2 p.m. memorial service at the fallen firefighter memorial at the State Capitol, according to the Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Association. Before the service, the names of those who died in the line of duty will be read aloud.

Five new names will be added to the memorial at the state Capitol, including four past line-of-duty deaths discovered since last year's memorial service, the association says.

The firefighters who will be recognized at a 2 p.m. memorial service include:

  • Rice Lake Township Fire Chief Matthew Frantz, who died Dec. 8, 2013, of an apparent heart attack while working as a full-time UPS driver. His death came within 24 hours of responding to a mutual aid fire call from the Duluth fire department.
  • Hermantown firefighter William Johnson, who died Feb. 26, 1963, from a fatal heart attack while shoveling a driveway that obstructed access to a burning home.
  • Mankato firefighter Wally Anderson, who died in Aug. 17, 1930. He was assisting in a fire investigation and while transporting a suspect to the police station for questioning, a train struck the vehicle he was in.
  • St. Paul Captain Patrick Murray, who died April 30, 1916, of a fatal heart attack at the scene of a fire in St. Paul.
  • Mankato firefighter Michael Fallenstein, who died April 19, 1913, of an apparent heart attack while fighting a hotel fire in Mankato.

The association says four of five firefighters to be recognized at this year's service died of a heart attack, noting a recent study that found cardiovascular events account for 45 percent of deaths of on-duty firefighters, compared to 15 percent of the general population – in 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act, which declares a heart attack or stroke a line-of-duty death.

Cities across the nation marked the somber day:

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