SANDOWN – The Sandown Fire Department wants to recognize the men and women who protect the lives and property of their communities with a monument at the door of the fire station. The department has been working over the past several weeks to create a design and fundraising plan for the Sandown Firefighters Memorial. But it’s something they’ve been thinking about for years as a way to properly recognize those people who give of their time, bodies and sometimes even lives to the fire and rescue service.
The impetus to get moving on the memorial was the death of longtime fire chief and department backbone Irving Bassett last year. While the monument will not be in the name of the department’s chief, mentor and friend, they’ve decided that he’d like it better for all firefighters to have a special place in front of the station.
The plan is to build an octagon-shaped, 20- by 20-foot brick patio, at the center of which a brick monument will stand, likely with a large brass iconic bell. Flanking it on three sides will be three flags – those of the United States, New Hampshire and firefighters.
The plan calls for a substantial structure, with nearly 1,800 bricks making up its patio base, each of those bricks with the potential to bear the name of a loved one, a family name, a service member or someone who has made a difference in a resident’s life.
To help pay for the structure and to tie the community further into it, the department is offering the chance for people to purchase an engraved brick to lay in the monument. The bricks can be engraved in the name of the donor, a family or anyone important to the donor. The names do not have to be those of a firefighter or rescue worker.
Four spokes will cross the center of the base and those bricks, in a darker shade of red, will be reserved for former chiefs of the department. The department’s leadership is currently creating the process by which people can purchase bricks. Check www.sandown.us for more information or visit the department. Order forms and an explanation of the project are in their draft stages but the department plans to have them ready by the time the Tri-Town Times is in mailboxes.
The department’s first fundraising effort aside from the bricks is a raffle during its traditional Chicken Barbecue at Old Home Days. The department is looking for raffle items, and as part explanation/part call for items, Captain David Cheney wrote up why the department is undertaking this project.
“How can one pay tribute to such a legacy? To someone who has given their life in the service of saving another’s life or property? That is what the members of the Sandown Volunteer Fire Department have been discussing for some time. We lost a firefighter in the line of duty for the first time a little over a year ago. Then this past year we lost another active firefighter, who over the course of his 56 years of volunteer service helped form this department, later becoming chief for 24 years. The firefighter’s family is one of a brotherhood and a sisterhood that we are proud to be a part,” wrote Cheney. “As volunteer firefighters, we serve for one sole purpose, it needs to be done and it’s the right thing to do.”
Contact the department at 887-4806 to help out with the raffle. There are also opportunities to purchase bricks, flags, one of four plaques or a flag pole to support the project. Bricks will cost $65, flags $75 and a flag pole $750. While the specifics of the plaques have not been nailed down, one will likely have this quote from Edward F. Croker, Chief FDNY, 1899-1911: “When a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.”
The department is hoping to begin construction on the memorial this October by laying down the base. Then in the spring they hope to finish the project. The work will be done like most things in the Sandown department, with volunteer time and expertise. As soon as the community heard about the project, residents have been knocking on the door with offers of help or to secure a brick, explained fire chief Bill Tapley.
The department is planning to lay new engraved bricks twice a year into the monument, likely during Memorial Day and during Fire Prevention Week. Tapley said Irving Bassett had long wanted to create something for all of those who have served and for all those who will serve, and the department was proud and excited to begin work on that project.
The culture of the department is one of brotherhood and service, from the youngest members to the veterans, and all of those who have discussed the project are pleased to be part of creating a lasting legacy. “All of us, we’re very proud and honored to do this,” said Tapley.