Two Rhode Island Chiefs Added to National Fallen Firefighters Memorial This Weeekend
By Assistant Chief Christopher Koretski
May 6, 2024

On the weekend of May 4-5 the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation held their annual memorial weekend services in Emmitsbug, Maryland. Two Rhode Island chief officers were added to the memorial on the campus of the National Fire Academy. This 43rd annual service honored 226 firefighters who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. 86 2023 line of duty death names were added with the balance being previous year deaths and those associated with 9/11 cancer. Among the honorees are career and volunteer firefighters, wildland firefighters and contractors in the wild fire environment.

Rhode Island had two names added this year to the memorial. They include past Deputy Chief Robert T. Gardiner of the Richmond-Carolina Fire District who had a cardiac event following assisting after a structure fire response in January 2023 and Battalion Chief James L. Varin Sr. of the Providence Fire Department who passed away in March 2023 from complications with a brain tumor. Both famlies attended the memorial and were escorted by members of the Rhode Island fire service throughout the weekend who volunteer with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

On Saturday the families attended family programs designed to assist them with their loss and help to connect them with other fire hero families who too have suffered loosing a loved one. They then traveled to the National Fire Academy campus to view the memorial and were then bussed to the PNC Arena at Mount Saint Mary's University for a candlelight memorial held in doors due to rain. Sunday morning, the national memorial service was also held at the PNC arena again, due to rain. During the service, the families were each presented with a flag flown over the US Capital and the NFFF memorial. They were presented with a rose and a special badge depicting the memorial with their firefighter's name engraved on it.

Further coverage of the memorial including a replay of both services can be seen at

Hyperlinks: Memorial Weekend