Where We Live: New memorial to honor fallen firefighters

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new memorial to honor Portland’s firefighters is closer to reality.

Portland Fire Chief David Campbell in 1889. (Courtesy to City of Portland)

Over the years, 36 Portland firefighters have died in the line of duty — including Fire Chief David Campbell. A 30-year veteran, Campbell is credited with modernizing the fire bureau at the turn of the century.

On June 26, 1911, Campbell rushed into the Union Oil Warehouse on Water Street to fight the massive fire from the inside.

Unfortunately, he didn’t make it out alive.

“He literally gave his life to save his firefighters,” said Terry Shanley, who is developing the new David Campbell Memorial. “When he passed, there were 150,000 people who attended his funeral.”

Currently, there is a memorial to Chief Campbell and the city’s other fallen firefighters — Portland Firefighters Park. 

Established in 1927, the National Historic Landmark is located at West Burnside and 19th. The tiny park also has “The Messenger,” which is a fire alarm bell that can be heard all the way to Oregon City.

Fire officials ring The Messenger once a year to read the names of the fallen firefighters.

Watch the ringing of the bell below (Courtesy to Portland Fire)

However, over the years, Firefighters Park has been overrun by transients, littered with garbage — and even used as a urinal.

“It’s not worthy of the sacrifice that the firefighters make for us every day, and so we set off to create a new one,” Shanley said.

The new David Campbell Memorial will be next to Fire Station 21 on the East Bank Esplanade with lighted poles to remember the fallen.

The city and firefighters have raised about a fourth of the money for the project, which will surpass $1 million.

Shanley hopes Portlanders will donate the rest.

“We want to make something a lot more iconic than what we have,” Shanley said.

The goal is to have the new memorial built by 2020. 

Firefighters Park is expected to remain in Southwest Portland. The new David Campbell Memorial will be separate.

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