The memorial was conceived of more than a decade ago, during the administration of Chief Bobbie McKenzie. A site at the intersection of West Sixth Avenue and West First Street behind City Hall was formally designated for the memorial back in 2005.
Retired Battalion Chief Phil Langston said that for many years, Firefighters have had their boots in hand collecting funds for the Salvation Army and for the annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy effort. This time, for the first time ever, the Firefighters will be collecting for a cause closer to home.
Retired Captain David Kay said the plaza will honor all past, present and future firefighters. “Zero — knock on wood,” was Langston’s response to a question about the number of local firefighters killed in the line of duty in Rome and Floyd County.
Cevian Design Lab of Rome is assisting with the design of the monument, which is expected to include between 5,000 and 6,000 commemorative brick pavers, a couple of flagpoles and, at this point, a bronze statue — approximately seven feet tall — which is being designed by a sculptor based in Boise, Idaho.
Brooks Building Group has agreed to construct the monument at cost.
“We’re still tweaking it here and there,” Deputy Chief Curt Pierson said of the design. The department is trying to keep the final price tag down in the $120,000-$130,000 range. Pierson said funds from fire-related building fees over the years have helped to raise about 75 percent of the cost of the plaza to date, and the department is hoping to raise the rest of the money before the end of the year so that work can get underway on the long-discussed project.