Hilliard Northwest News

Norwich Township honors firefighters killed while battling Arizona wildfire

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Norwich Township Fire Department on July 3 memorialized the 19 firefighters from the Prescott, Ariz., Granite Mountain Hotshot crew who died June 30 while fighting a wildfire in Arizona.

The ceremony was at First Responders Park in Old Hilliard.

"This is a time to quiet our hearts and our minds as we remember these Arizona firefighters," said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Warren. "The brotherhood mourns and you mourn with us. This is an observance and a remembrance, but we hope to find of words of encouragement while we are here."

Pastor Brad Kochis, chaplain of the Norwich Township Fire Department, provided an invocation during which he prayed for for the wives and children of the firefighters killed in the line of duty.

"The fire service requires that they run to a danger when others run away from it ... and with confidence they walk towards it," Kochis said.

The service included a memorial bell.

Kochis explained that three rings of the bell signify the start and end of a watch. A bell also is used to signal that a scene is clear and safe.

"The Prescott 19 have completed their duty with courage, bravery and valor," Kochis said, after which firefighter Jeff Morales rang the bell three times to conclude the ceremony.

The ceremony had particular significance to Jim and Lois Rice, whose grandson, Beau Rice, 33, and a 1999 graduate of Hilliard Davidson High School, is a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.

Rice battles blazes at locations throughout the United States. He was in California last week and currently is in Nevada.

"It can be tough because a lot of the time we don't know where he is until he calls (home)," said Lois Rice, adding he usually contacts them at least once a week to keep the family informed of his assignments.