National Memorial Weekend pays tribute to nine fallen PNW firefighters

Honor guards stand watch at the National Firefighters Memorial Weekend
Honor guards stand watch at the National Firefighters Memorial Weekend (Credit: NFFF)


May 4-5, 2024, commemorated the 43rd National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. The event, hosted by the National Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, will pay tribute to eight firefighters from the Pacific Northwest.  

The service dedicates the weekend to honoring and remembering the bravery of individuals who died in the line of duty as firefighters. The national tribute will honor 89 firefighters who died this year and 137 who died in previous years. Among them, six are from Washington, two from Oregon, and one from Idaho.  

Detailed information about each firefighter memorialized can be found on the organization’s 2024 Roll of Honor.

“National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend is a time for our nation to pause and reflect on the heroic efforts and selfless service of the fallen firefighters we are paying tribute to this year,” said NFFF CEO Victor Stagnaro. “We will always remember the bravery, commitment, and sacrifices of these 226 heroes-and their families.”  

The memorial takes the time to honor firefighters who lost their lives in a line of duty, with many dying to health-related casualties, a leading concern for firefighters nationwide.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is cancer one of the leading causes of death among firefighters, a risk significantly heightened by their exposure to smoke and hazardous chemicals.  

Among the firefighters being honored, 21% died to cancer, the second leading cause of death among the firefighters. Cardiovascular illness accounted for 24%, while COVID-19 caused 27% 

Currently NFFF invests in research to provide screening for firefighters, mitigating the harm from exposure to toxic chemicals. According to the foundation, these efforts are not only to honor the memory of firefighters like Ron A. Roy, who tragically lost his life to cancer this past year but also aim to prevent future losses. The findings from research are used to enhance training and education on safe work practices, reducing cancer exposure and safeguarding the well-being of firefighters nationwide. 

Ronald A. Roy-Wenatchee Valley Fire Department

Ronald A. Roy-Wenatchee Valley Fire Department.

Lieut. Ronald A. Roy of the Wenatchee Valley left is legacy in paving the way for volunteers in the fire department. He was an advocate for volunteer rights. He died away July 31, 2023, battling cancer, deemed by the State of Washington to be a line-of-duty-death. (Credit: NFFF)

Ronald A. Roy, known as Ron, was a pillar in the Wenatchee Valley community, died on July 31, 2023, after battling leukemia for 16 months. Roy’s commitment to firefighting began in 1973 when he joined the Chelan County Fire District #1 as a volunteer firefighter, dedicating 50 years and volunteering at Douglas #2, which later merged into the Wenatchee Valley Fire  

Roy dedicated his life to advocate for better support for volunteers and organizing national initiatives to address their needs. His commitment extended to enhancing conditions for volunteers, including presumptive cancer benefits, retirement, reduced property taxes, and any other rights he felt they deserved.  

T.J. Nedrow, a firefighter who worked closely with Roy, traveled to Maryland to honor his memory. He said being there as part of Roy’s family and loved ones was deeply meaningful.  

“He was selfless and did not finish the job until it was done. He has been doing it for free for 50 years and never complained. The best way that we can honor his memory is to continue honoring his mission in advocating for volunteer rights,” Nedrow said.  

Other firefighters from the Pacific Northwest who are being honored include:  

Michelle Janine Williams – Seattle Fire Department  

Michele Janine Williams

Michele Janine Williams, Seattle Fire Department- Wash. (Credit: NFFF )

Michele Janine Williams broke barriers as she was one of the few of three African American women working as a firefighter in the Seattle Fire Department in 1984, serving the community for 34 years. Born on Jan. 31, 1961, her death on Dec. 21, 2022, left a void with her loved ones. Those closest to her said she was a woman of remarkable kindness and thoughtfulness.

Robert “Bo” Schiemer – Tacoma Fire Department

Robert “Bo” Schiemer, Tacoma Fire Department.

Robert “Bo” Schiemer, Tacoma Fire Department. (Credit: Courtesy Photo/NFFF)

Robert “Bo” Schiemer, born Dec. 29, 1976, was a revered figure in the Tacoma Fire Department. He joined the department in 2010. He was a role model to the Tacoma community and was a recipient of the Al Nejmah Award (20), Firefighter of the Year, and the Chief’s Spirit of Excellence (22). “He was the guy who just randomly called on you, not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him,” said Rick Stevens, Tacoma fire captain dispatcher. Schiemer died 2023 of cancer.

Dean Allan Crosswhite -Whatcom County Fire District 7

Whatcom County Fire District.

Dean Allan Crosswhite, Whatcom County Fire District. (Credit: NFFF)

Dean Allan Crosswhite dedicated his life to serving the community and honoring the memory of the fallen firefighters from 9/11. Each year he organized bringing first responders from Ground Zero to Washington state. His loved ones said he had an infectious smile, and his “open-door” policy earned people’s love and respect.

Matthew D. Riggsby – City of Buckley Fire Department 

Matthew Riggsby. City of Buckley Fire Department.

Matthew D. Riggsby, City of Buckley Fire Department. (Credit: Courtesy / NFFF)

Born Oct. 12, 1983, Matthew D. Riggsby was known to be the first to take on the difficult tasks no one wanted to do. At the station it was common to hear, “Ask Matthew.” His loved ones said he saw a problem and worked out a solution before most knew it was a question.

Charles Thomas “Chad”Cate II – Clallam County Fire District 3

Charles “Chad,” Thomas, Clallam County Fire District.

Charles Thomas “Chad,” Cate II Clallam County Fire District. (Credit: NFFF)


Born Feb. 5, 1976, Charles Thomas “Chad” Cate II joined the Clallam County Fire District in high school, and at just 20 years old he became an EMT. He became a lieutenant and then a captain. Ones close to him said he was compassionate, and there is a hole he left in the hearts of his family and loved ones that can never be filled. 

Brandon Norbury – Gresham Fire Department

Brandon Norbury, Gresham Fire Department.

Brandon Norbury, Gresham Fire Department. (Credit: NFFF)

Brandon Norbury served in the U.S. Navy and received an honorable discharge in 2000. Norbury joined the Fire Recruit Academy in 2008 and served the Gresham Fire Department for over 15 years. His coworkers said he had a “get-it-done” attitude and put his community first. Norbury died in 2023.

Brian Edward Flowers-Gresham Fire Department

Brian Edward Flowers, Gresham Fire Department.

Brian Edward Flowers, Gresham Fire Department. (Credit: NFFF)

Born Dec. 17, 1974, Brian Edward Flowers dedicated over 15 years of his life to the Gresham Fire Department. Loved ones close to him said he embodied the phrase, “He would give you the shirt off his back,” and never hesitated to lend a helping hand. His son Darian Flowers followed in his father’s footsteps and became a firefighter at 19. Flowers died away on Nov. 19, 2023, of leukemia.  


William “Bill” Wright – Timberlake Fire Protection District 

William “Bill” Wright, Timberlake Fire Protection District.

William “Bill” Wright, Timberlake Fire Protection District. (Credit: NFFF)


William “Bill” Wright born in Mississippi and settled in Idaho in the backwoods of Athol. He began his volunteer firefighter journey after wife Margaret Wright died. He was known to be a humble, kind role model in his community. Wright died in 2021. 

National Memorial Weekend services

There are two events open to the public at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park on the grounds of the National Emergency Training Center during Memorial Weekend.  

The National Fallen Firefighters Candlelight Service is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be hosted by Fire Captain Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department.  

The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service is Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET and will be hosted by actor Jeremy Holm.  

The NFFF will live stream both events on the NFF’S website(, and on Facebook There are additional events during Memorial Weekend provided exclusively for the families and fire departments of the fallen.  

How Communities Can Participate

Those not attending the Memorial Weekend in person can pay tribute to this year’s honored firefighters. All can participate in Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters May 1-5 by lighting their homes, business, landmarks, or fire departments with red lights. Other ways to participate include Bells Across America, Sound the Sirens, and signing a virtual Remembrance Banner.

American flags also will be lowered to half-staff on all federal buildings on Sunday. The public is also encouraged to lower their American flags that day to recognize the men and women who dedicated their lives to firefighting.  

On June 2, 2024, Washington state will remember fallen firefighters who have lost their lives in a line of duty.  

“With another hot summer expected for Washington, we could see another long season for wildland and community firefighters. They charge in to danger for us all. It’s right that we honor them as well as their families,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, gov. of Washington. 

Published by NWBP in collaboration with The Wenatchee World as part of the Murrow Local News Fellowship Program.