Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial
The memorial was signed into law in 1996 by Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson. The memorial is funded completely by tax deductible donations and no tax money was used to build the memorial. On October 3, 2003, the Wisconsin Legislature designated the week which contains October 8 as Fire Prevention week. The Saturday of that week is designated the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Day; the week also commemorates the Peshtigo Fire and Great Chicago Fire from 1871.
It is located at Ben Hansen Park on Wisconsin Highway 54 / Wisconsin Highway 73 just south of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin and north of Port Edwards, Wisconsin along the Wisconsin River. Locations considered for the memorial included Milwaukee (the state's largest population) and Madison; it was placed at Wisconsin Rapids to be near the center of the state for the easiest possible access for state residents.
The centerpiece of the park is a statue of three life-sized firefighters engaged in a rescue situation. One firefighter is dragging a disabled firefighter with another nearby ready to help. There are benches for reflection and the American flag flies over the park. A tower with a firefighter's bell commemorates the bell that firefighters historically used to signal an alarm and a fire call. The memorial has a smaller bronze statue that it brings to funerals for firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Governor Jim Doyle signed a bill that allows Wisconsin income tax filers to donate money to the memorial's funds. As of the 2009 tax form, filers can fill in a donation amount to the memorial which decreases their refund or increases the amount owed. The group has held an annual motorcycle bike ride since 2004 to raise money for a planned visitor's center and to raise money to maintain the center.
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