More than 80 firefighters were honored at the California Firefighters Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento on Saturday. The ceremony inducted those who died in the line of duty to the list of more than 1,500 names etched in stone on the firefighters memorial wall at the State Capitol.
Among the names listed was Tory Carlon, 44, who worked at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce. In June of last year, Carlon was killed in a shooting at the fire station that also left its captain, Arnoldo Sandoval, severely wounded. The off-duty firefighter who killed Carlon took his own life shortly thereafter, turning the gun on himself after returning to his home in Acton.
Carlon is survived by his wife and his three daughters.
“Tory had such a huge impact on his family and so many others,” said firefighter Gary Reichman, who worked with Carlon at Fire Station 81, at a memorial for Carlon last year. “Even though Tory isn’t with us anymore, his spirit and legacy live on forever. His heart was full of love for Heidi and his girls. … He had the biggest heart with so much passion, pride and love for his job.”
The ceremony was started with a bagpipe processional — done by the Pipes and Drums of California Professional Firefighters — the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, and an opening prayer. This was the first firefighters memorial held since 2019, having been delayed by the pandemic. Brian K. Rice, president of CPF, was the ceremony’s first speaker.
“Today, we gather for the first time in three years to honor and pay tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate price,” said Rice. “Because of the pandemic we were not able to come together, as we had for so many years before. But today we’re renewing this emotional but noble tradition of recognizing those who gave their lives in the service of California.”
Rice thanked the family members of the 82 firefighters whose names were added to the wall, saying that “today we also give those families the tribute they deserve” and called the death of Carlon an act of “unspeakable violence.”
Rice said in addition to remembering those who had died on duty, names added to the memorial included those who died from COVID-19, of suicide, and those who died from a job-related illness.
“We saw dozens that lost their fight to the slow curse of a job-related illness,” said Rice. “Nearly half of the men and women we honor today were struck down by a job-related cancer.”
Also in attendance was Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who wanted to pay tribute to fallen firefighters on behalf of the people of California.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be here,” said Kounalakis. “The fallen firefighters we honor today, indeed all firefighters, were and are among the most committed, most remarkable, and most important members of our incredible and diverse California community. In my opinion, the word ‘hero’ applies more to them than to any other group of citizens or public servants.”
The roll of honor was called by Ray Gayk, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. Each family member was given a folded state flag and the ceremonial fire bell was rung as each name was called.
The ceremony concluded with the “last alarm,” which is three rings, three times each, representing the end of a firefighter’s duty and their call “back to quarters.”