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Plans take shape for memorial to honor Arizona firefighters

Fire Fighter MemorialThe Arizona Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial to be built in Wesley Bolin Plaza is still 19 months from completion, but the fundraising and plans to complete it are well underway.

Rick DeGraw, chair of the memorial commission, said he has lined up several companies for the construction, firefighters to help with the labor, and promises from donors to the tune of $528,000.

“These are very solid commitments from people I know and trust,” he said.

The total cost is estimated at $1.5 million. But no money was appropriated in the 2013 legislation allowing for the construction of a memorial for firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

DeGraw said that with donated services and labor the full dollar amount won’t have to be raised. He said the structure will include 11 bronze, life-sized sculptures and a ringing bell tower.

The sculptures will be done by former lawmaker Rusty Bowers, who served from 1993 to 1996 in the House and 1997 to 2001 in the Senate, and Paul Olnewiscz, a retired Tucson firefighter.

“It will be an Arizona memorial. This is going to be a completely Arizona project,” DeGraw said.

Gov. Jan Brewer approved the legislation July 17 in the aftermath of the June 30 deaths of 19 firefighters with the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots, who were fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell. One member of the crew survived.

Lawmakers this year are considering a bill to appropriate $500,000 to establish the Yarnell Hill Memorial State Park. It passed the House on March 5 on a 56-2 vote.

Groundbreaking: March 2015
Completion: September 2015 Cost: $1.5 million
Features: Eleven life-size bronzes, ringing bell tower, low-level lighting, elevated wall with names.

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