As the clock hit noon on Sunday, Aetna Hose, Hook, and Ladder Company members rang a bell 119 times – once for each United States firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2018.
The bell ceremony – one of hundreds that occurred around at fire departments around the country – was part of Aetna’s annual remembrance that coincides with the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Md.
“Bells rang this year from coast to coast as a grateful nation joined the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation for Bells Across America,” Aetna spokesman John H. Farrell IV said.
The sound of a bell holds a “special significance” for firefighters, Farrell said.
“Departments sounded a series of bells when a firefighter died in the one of duty,” he said. “The tolling of the bell alerted all members that a comrade had made the ultimate sacrifice. This time-honored tradition continues today during funerals or memorial services for firefighters.”
Aetna’s 1,200-pound memorial bell was purchased in 1905 for $90. It was recently restored and moved from Station 9 on Academy Street to the Aetna Memorial Garden at Station 7 on Thorn Lane.