INDIANAPOLIS — Firefighters spend their careers risking their lives for the safety of their communities. A solemn ceremony Thursday night honored a dozen firefighters whose lives ended while serving their duty.
The Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana enshrined twelve names into the Law Enforcement and Firefighters Memorial across from the Indiana Statehouse.
The honored firefighters are:
- Lewis E. Wiesler of the Lafayette Fire Department — died Nov. 25, 1979
- Jan Dawes of the Van Buren Fire Department — died Aug. 8, 1988
- Bill Walters of the Waterloo-Grant Township Volunteer Fire Department — died Aug. 9, 2021
- Ronald Derrickson of the Straughn Volunteer Fire Department — died Sept. 15, 2021
- Joe Stucker, Jr. of the Fairland Fire Department — died Oct. 17, 2021
- Duane Erwin of the Elberfield Fire Territory — died Oct. 23, 2021
- Bruce DeArk of the Jeffersonville Fire Department — died Feb. 6, 2022
- Mark Rapp of the Indianapolis Fire Department — died March 4, 2022
- Terry L. Cassidy of the Sparta Township Fire Department — died May 26, 2022
- Richard "Hank" Potter of the Wayne Township Fire Department — died May 10, 2022
- Brian F. Gainey of the Indianapolis Airport Authority Fire Department — died Aug. 29, 2022
- Joshua P. Ramirez of the Pike Township Fire Department — died Oct. 14, 2022
"Firefighters are the ones we look to when the chips are down and tragedy strikes," said Chief Charles Connelly of the Indiana Fire Chiefs Association during the ceremony. "It is important to always remember and never forget their lives of service. That time served was not in vain."
Capt. Eric Banister of the Wayne Township Fire Department said his department is still mourning honoree Richard "Hank" Potter to this day.
"If we had a hundred Hank Potters, we would be a better fire department," Banister said. "No one was more dedicated than Hank."
Potter joined the department as a volunteer in 1987 and was promoted to engineer in 1999. He served up until his death from cancer, which is considered a line of duty death.
"Us older guys, we're all on the border of someone telling us in the next physical that cancer exists in you," Banister said. "It didn't stop him."
Banister is proud that Potter's name is engraved in the Firefighters Memorial and considers it a fitting tribute for his life of service.
"Every day there's a story told around the kitchen table that has his name in it," Banister said.