A resolution to erect street signs throughout St. Paul to remember 62 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty in the department's nearly 160-year history was approved Wednesday by the City Council.
In a 6-0 vote, the council authorized the markers after hearing a summary of the project from Bob Kippels, a St. Paul fire captain and secretary of the board of directors for the St. Paul Fire Foundation.
The more he dug into the history of the fallen firefighters, Kippels said, "the more determined [I was] to make it something special."
The causes of the 62 deaths range from falls from ladders and through pole holes at fire stations, to heart attacks and other health issues suffered in the course of their work.
A particularly dark day in the department's history was Oct. 21, 1900, when a wall collapsed on firefighters at a burning warehouse owned by the McCormick Harvester Co. Five firefighters died.
Each marker is expected to be sponsored by a donor and cost about $100. They would be 12 by 18 inches, about the same size as a no-parking sign, and each would include the name of a firefighter, the date of death and the fire department's Maltese cross insignia.
The markers would be installed close to where the firefighters died, Kippels said. Some sites may be more complicated to mark than others, such as those with historical designations or where the pertinent streets or buildings no longer exist.
The signs would be attached to existing street signs or light poles where possible, Kippels said.
The St. Paul Fire Foundation plans to create an online map on its website with information about the firefighters and a drivable route to visit the markers.
Kippels has said that he hopes to have the signs installed by the end of May.