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Fallen firefighters recognized with memorial service in Springfield

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(The Center Square) – Five Illinois firefighters who lost their lives in 2023 were honored Tuesday.

The 31st Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony took place in Springfield.

“Every year the state of Illinois honors and recognizes our profession, and for that, the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois is appreciative,” said president Chuck Sullivan. “Our members literally go to work every day of the year not knowing what to expect. Some of us make the ultimate sacrifice and never return home. Others perform extremely heroic actions that save lives.”

Chicago Fire Department Firefighter/EMT Jermaine Pelt, Chicago Fire Department Firefighter/EMT Andrew “Drew” Price, Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Jan Tchoryk, Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Kevin Ward, and Maroa Countryside Fire Protection District Chief Larry Peasley were honored for their sacrifice during the fallen firefighter memorial.

“May we never forget their valor, their commitment, and their unwavering dedication to their communities and to the fire service,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal James Rivera.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 25 firefighters have lost their lives already this year in the U.S., including an Aurora firefighter who died in the line of duty last month.

Eight firefighters were awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award given by the state of Illinois to a firefighter for an act of outstanding bravery. Five of those honored responded to the truck crash that released hazardous chemicals that killed five people near Teutopolis last September.

In addition, three units received the Firefighter Excellence “Unit Citation” Awards for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence, teamwork and professionalism in service to Illinois residents. They included the Belvidere, Midlothian and Minooka Fire Departments.