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Utah firefighters honor their fallen comrades

The last name on the shiny black stone memorial in front of Salt Lake City Station No. 1 is Orson E. Nebeker, who died March 2, 1975. It has been 22 years since the city has lost a firefighter on the job.

But two decades without a loss did not make Sunday's moment of silence in honor of their fallen comrades any less sobering."We don't want to add any more names to that list," said Capt. Kim Chadwick.

The crew at the downtown station participated in a nationwide memorial service Sunday to honor firefighters killed in the line of duty in 1996. As part of the memorial, flags at stations across the country were lowered to half-staff for the day.

The event is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A national memorial service was held in Em-mitsburg, Md.

The lone Utahn honored at Emmitsburg was Norman J. Ray, 62, of Fruitland. He died of a heart attack during the summer of 1996 while operating a pump at a wildfire near Fruitland.

Ray was among the 94 fire-fighters from 36 states honored. He had been with the Fruitland Fire Department for about a year.

"It was tough. It made it kind of bad on everybody," said Fruitland Fire Chief Rusty Campbell.

Fruitland's fire department is made up of volunteers who meet periodically for training.

Campbell said the department had a plaque made for Ray's widow but did not participate in the memorial service.

"She really didn't want a big scene, but we were honoring him for his service to the community," Campbell said.

Nebeker was injured after a plane crashed and burned at Salt Lake International Airport in 1965. He rushed through flames to help with the rescue and died several years later as a result of his injuries.

This year marked the 16th of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.