In 2011, the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation launched an initiative to move the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and create a larger, more accessible and interactive memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol. The fire service foundation commissioned LEO A DALY, an international architecture/engineering firm, to design a memorial that honors the sacrifice of Minnesota firefighters killed in the line of duty.
LEO A DALY’s vision for the memorial design was to create an environment that provides a meaningful experience to family, friends and community member who visit to pay their tributes. As such, the design of the approximately 6,000-square-foot memorial incorporates evocative symbols of firefighters in every aspect of the memorial.
The main focal point is a large monolith that houses the Minnesota Fire Service Memorial Statue. This bronze, figurative sculpture of a firefighter rescuing a child, which was previously on display at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, is lit by natural light through a 10-foot diameter circular void in the monolith. The 19,000-pound monolith, measuring 22 by 28 feet, mediates between the scale of the firefighter statue and the scale of the State Capitol Mall, making it more visible to visitors. The monolith also symbolizes the idea of an enclosure to convey the precarious nature of a firefighter’s job.
A grid of columns supports the literal and figurative weight of the monolith. The organizing grid of 100 potential pavilion columns embodies a repeating century of years – 10 decades by 10 years per decade. Currently, a constellation of 86 columns are mapped on the grid, recording the years in which Minnesota firefighters have died in the line of duty. The names of each of Minnesota’s fallen firefighters are inscribed on the columns. The design allows for new columns to be added onto the grid for additional inscriptions in the future, making it a living monument instead of a snapshot in time. The inscriptions, which are oriented in the general direction of the fire department in which the fallen firefighters served, are arrayed up and down in a chronological sequence.
The monolith and columns are made of weathering steel, which over time rusts to form a protective coating – a process analogous to the oxidation of fire. In addition to being an appropriate material for the application, the weathering steel also signifies the firefighter community’s ongoing commitment and future sacrifices.
On the south side, the memorial ground rises to present approaching visitors with a dedication wall. Made of cast stone, an architectural precast concrete of refined quality, the dedication wall emerges from grade and is inscribed with the names of the 791 fire departments throughout the state in an alphabetical sequence.
The memorial site is divided into a landscaped garden and a paved gathering area, providing a space for intimate encounter and personal contemplation, as well as the ceremonial location for large annual memorial services. Additionally, a sculpted cedar bench with a burned finish is located between the garden and the paved area for people to sit and reflect on the dangers firefighters face in their lives.
+ Fact Sheet
What: Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial
Who: Minnesota Fire Service Foundation
Where: State Capitol, St. Paul, Minnesota
Cost: $600,000, funded through donations from the public, Minnesota businesses and, primarily, from the state’s firefighting community
Project Team: The entire team worked with the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation on a pro bono basis
- LEO A DALY – Design, project management and cost estimation
- Westwood Professional Services – Survey and civil engineering
- General Contractor – Meisinger Construction
- EDR, Ltd., of Siren, Wis. – Fabricated the memorial’s pavilion
- Douglas O. Freeman, at Casting Creations of Minnesota – Refinished the original Minnesota Fire Service Memorial Statue sculpted by him in 1987
- Memorial built on the grounds of the State Capitol Mall at St. Paul, Minn.
- The memorial is approximately 6,000 square feet in area
- The memorial’s major components include:
- The Minnesota Firefighter Memorial Statue, which was originally at the baggage claim area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.
- Dedication wall with the names of 791 fire departments in Minnesota
- A 19,000 pound pavilion or monolith that houses the Minnesota Firefighter Memorial Statue. The statue is lit by natural light through a 10-foot diameter circular void in the monolith
- The monolith is supported by a constellation of 86 columns with the names of each of Minnesota’s fallen firefighters inscribed on the columns.
- A cedar bench with a burned finish for people to sit and reflect.
- A landscaped garden and paved area for quiet contemplation
Design Commencement: April 2011
Groundbreaking Ceremony: July 13, 2012
Dedication Ceremony: Sept. 30, 2012