Memorial in Olympia for firefighters in the works with bill passage

Five people in suits and dresses stand inside a conference room at the Capitol building in Olympia, Washington under fluorescent lights.
Supporters of the bill, including lawmakers who are firefighters, gathered this week in Olympia to highlight the success of the bill’s passage. (Credit: Lauren Gallup / NWPB)



A bill to reconstruct a memorial for fallen firefighters is waiting on Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature.

Supporters of the bill, including lawmakers who are firefighters, gathered  in Olympia to highlight the bill’s passage. The memorial will honor  nearly 300 Washington firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1891, according to the Fallen Firefighter Foundation.

“We celebrate the passage of a bill that sets in motion the creation of a new memorial that will truly honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. 

Franz grew up around firefighters because her father worked out of Washington fire stations.

“Now, as the leader of Washington’s wildfire fighting force, I’ve been able to live that constant state of fear and concern of always wanting to make sure one of our own comes home,” Franz said. 

Washington senator Kevin Van De Wege is a firefighter who sponsored the bill. The memorial will honor fallen firefighters like his friend Chad Cate.

“His name will be inscribed on this, so for me personally, this is very, very meaningful and I know it will be as well to a lot of families,” Van De Wege said. 

Kalina Shouse lost her husband Erik Shouse, who was Camano Island fire commissioner. She said the memorial is a way for fire families to grieve and honor their loved ones.

“This is a way we are sharing them with you all because we understand that our loss is not just our own,” Shouse said.

The original fallen firefighters memorial at the Washington state capitol was destroyed in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

“This will be a somber place for people to reflect and remember those we have lost,” said Rep. Dan Bronoske. “They still need our help. There are still cancers that firefighters die from at an alarming rate…It’s time we take care of them.”

The decision of who will design the memorial will be made within the year, said Franz.

Editor’s Note: Lauren Gallup contributed to this report. 

Correction: A previous version of this report said that Franz was the daughter of a firefighter. Franz’s father was a budget analyst for fire departments and the commissioner grew up around firefighters as her father often worked at Washington fire stations.