CHIMACUM — Two Jefferson County firefighters who died fighting fires more than 50 years ago are now honored at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park in Emmitsburg, Md., thanks to an East Jefferson Fire-Rescue volunteer and members of the Firefighter’s Union Local 2032.
When Sandy Short, a volunteer emergency medical technician with East Jefferson Fire-Rescue (EJFR), noticed Luther “Slim” Statom’s name engraved in a plaque on the side of the Uptown fire station more than two years ago, she began researching the circumstances of his death.
This led to her discovering how he died and that Maurice R. Bradley, an original member of the volunteer Chimacum Fire Department, also had died fighting a fire.
“These men gave their lives voluntarily for the communities that they lived in to make them better places and safer places to live,” Short said.
“They both had other jobs in this world and did this on their own willingness to serve their community and make it a better place to live.”
Short’s research led to Bradley’s and Statom’s names being engraved onto bricks and added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park Walk of Honor at the National Fire Academy, a memorial honoring firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Because of information limitations, many firefighters who died on the job prior to 1981 have gone unrecognized at the Academy.
Statom, of the Port Townsend Fire Department, was killed when a wall fell on him while fighting a fire at the high school, then located at the corner of Lawrence and Tyler streets in Uptown in September 1943. He was 60 when he died.
Bradley, who was 37 when he died, was electrocuted while fighting a house fire on Marrowstone Island in March 1965.
A third firefighter, Allan “Mac” Mariott, a volunteer Port Townsend volunteer firefighter, died in September of 2001 fighting a marine fire.
While Mariott already had a brick at the Walk of Honor, neither Statom nor Bradley did.
Short said her research was aided by the weekly Port Townsend Leader.
“Without that information I would never have been able to complete the journey,” she said.
With information about how the two firefighters died, she contacted a chaplain at the state Fire Training Academy in North Bend in the hope of finding a way to honor the two men.
However, she learned there wasn’t a memorial in Washington state honoring all the firefighters who have died while on duty.
“I was lost,” she said.
At that point her effort was put on hold for about two years until she met another chaplain at a conference at EJFR’s Station 1-1 about nine months ago.
“I explained what I wanted and he gave me a great big grin and says ‘you need to contact Emmitsburg,’ ” she said.
At that point she got EJFR firefighter and union President Trevor Bergen on board to find out how to honor Statom and Bradley at the Walk of Honor.
Bergen said it was an easy decision to make when Short asked the union to spend $200 on purchasing the bricks for the two firefighters.
Bergen said her request left him wondering “Why hadn’t this been done before?”
“It was a shock that we didn’t know we had people who had died in the line of duty who didn’t have a brick yet,” he said.
The National Fire Academy sent EJFR two plaques honoring the firefighters, each displayed in their respective fire stations.
“The least we can do is honor them,” he said. “It’s really important that when someone does give the ultimate sacrifice that they are honored by whatever means we can.
“Sometimes a plaque on the wall sits there and nobody asks about it and it’s good that it was finally brought to light.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].