Leaders in the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department have dreamed of a firefighter memorial in Rome for over two decades.

Monday, that dream came a step closer to reality with groundbreaking ceremonies at the intersection of West Sixth Avenue and West First Street behind City Hall. Fire Chief Troy Brock explained that Rome has never lost a firefighter in action.

David Kay, retired fire captain, who has been on the fundraising team said, “this is to honor all past and current firefighters that served with the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department.”

Brock’s predecessor, retired chief Gordon Henderson, now head of standards and training for firefighters all over the state, said the effort to develop the memorial started under the administration of the late Bobbie McKenzie.

He said the location for the memorial is particularly significant.

“This actually used to be Station Seven. This is where the first actual truck that responded out in the county was housed right here on this spot,” Henderson said. “This is a perfect spot.”

Phil Langston, retired fire battalion chief, told a large crowd of public safety and government leaders while the fundraising efforts are still not 100 percent complete the project is on solid enough of a financial footing to go ahead and turn some dirt.

“We’re still out there beating the roads and beating the sidewalks and knocking on doors to make sure this thing gets fully funded,” Langston said.

The last budget figure for the project was $125,000 and the campaign was still a few thousand short after a big boot drive raised $18,000 over one weekend last November.

Langston said the sculptor for the monument has ties to Rome. Richard Arnold of Telluride, Colorado is married to the former Marshall Hackett of Rome.

“David Kay, (retired fire captain) and I are headed to Colorado next week to start the process of putting the sculpture together,” Langston said.

Arnold has agreed to do the monument for cost and will deliver it himself and supervise the installation later this summer.

Jeff Brooks, of the Brooks Building Group said construction of the plaza, which will be oriented facing the intersection of West Sixth Avenue and West First Street should take between three and four months depending on the weather.

Both Cevian and Brooks are donating their services to help reduce the fundraising burden.

“I can’t tell you what savings that is to this project,” Brock said.

Brock said the plaza was designed by the Cevian Design Group of Rome

“This has been a long time coming,” Chief Brock told the crowd. “I’d like to thank all firefighters past and present for making this happen.”