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Old bell memorializes area's fallen firefighters

More than a century ago, a fire bell sat on the lawn of what is now the Historic Union County Courthouse, its toll alerting nearby firefighters to trouble.

Now the bell is back.

Thursday night, the seventh anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Union County firefighters and others dedicated the refurbished bell to the memory of fallen firefighters.

“September 11 is certainly a difficult day for all Americans,” said Monroe Fire Chief Ron Fowler. “And it's especially difficult for firefighters.”

Inscribed on the bell are the names of three Union County firefighters who died in the line of duty:

Tommy Griffin of Sandy Ridge Volunteer Fire Department was electrocuted during a call in 1967. Kenneth Strain of Hemby Bridge VFD died in a fire vehicle wreck in 1999. Todd Hage of Wesley Chapel VFD died in August of last year in a similar wreck.

Fowler also paid tribute to 341 firefighters who died while responding to the 9-11 attacks in New York City, as well as to today's emergency responders.

The ceremony drew firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and family members of fallen firefighters. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”