BURRILLVILLE – When you see a red glow coming from the two fire stations in Pascoag this week, village firefighters hope that you take a moment to remember the sacrifice made by one of their own.
The district is participating in the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation’s “Light the Night,” project in honor of Lt. Richard Jenks, a 33 year veteran of the department who died at the age of 72 while fighting a chimney fire in town.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, the fire stations on Howard Avenue and Main Street were illuminated in red as part of the movement to honor fallen firefighters from across the country. The lights will continue to shine on the village through Sunday, Oct. 4.
The tribute is part of the foundation’s annual Memorial Weekend, remembering the many who died in the line of duty. The program includes a ceremony held annually at the National Fire Academy.
Last year, a contingent of Pascoag firefighters traveled to Emmitsburg, MD to be in attendance when Jenks’ name was added to the National Firefighters Memorial.
A lieutenant with the department who also served his country for 24 years with the United States Air Force, Jenks died on Feb. 14, 2018.
“It meant an awful lot to all of us who attended the ceremony in Maryland last year,” said Pascoag Lt. Tom Walker.
Walker noted that many of the firefighters had planned to return for the event this year, but were stopped short by the pandemic.
Fortunately for those who hoped to once again honor the late firefighter’, Light the Night, a chance for communities to participate in the national remembrance with a red glow of support, was added to NFFF’s memorial program in 2017 as a way to mark the 25th anniversary of the organization.
And it’s not just fire departments that take part.
From state buildings and museums, to stadiums and banks, as dusk turns to dark, institutions across the county will glow in respect for the fallen and their families through October 4. In 2018, Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters expanded to include fire department tributes.
In Pascoag, the red effect was created by adding two layers of red cellophane over all forward-facing windows at the stations – installed by department members. Walker noted that the process took several hours, with many members helping. A handful of red flood lights were added to accent certain areas – such as the monument to deceased members of the department in front of the Main Street Station.
Pascoag Utility District was able to turn off the bright white floodlights that normally illuminate the fronts of both buildings to make the effect more dramatic.
“As the Memorial Weekend has been impacted by the pandemic this year, we felt that our participation in this event was a proper way to pay our respect to our fallen brother, and all of our fire service brothers and sisters who have been lost,” district officials noted in a post on social media. “We ask that you take a moment to think of them when you see our stations lit up in red.”
The department was one of three in the state to participate in the national effort, joined by Warren Fire Department, Mechanics Fire Engine Co. #2 and by Watch Hill Fire Department in Westerly.
“Being a department that has suffered a line of duty death, we know how much the support of others in similar circumstances meant to us, and want to be sure that the families and departments of other fallen firefighters know that they are not alone,” Walker said.