Bill to create memorial to honor fallen firefighters passes Legislature

Van De Wege sponsors measure in Senate

Charles “Chad” Cate

Charles “Chad” Cate

OLYMPIA — Legislation to erect a memorial to firefighters who die in the line of duty is on the governor’s desk.

Sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Port Angeles, the bill passed Feb. 29 in the form of House companion legislation (HB 2091).

The legislation provides funding for the memorial to be constructed and maintained on the campus of the state Capitol, with funds from an account created to accept gifts and grants.

“Honoring nearly 300 line-of-duty deaths since 1891, this memorial to all the volunteer and career firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice will resonate with families and firefighters all over our state,” said Bud Sizemore, legislative liaison for the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

“Its presence on our state Capitol campus will provide visible and lasting recognition.”

Charles “Chad” Cate

Charles “Chad” Cate

Van De Wege, formerly of Sequim, said support for the memorial was inspired in part by the death of a coworker a year ago, on Jan. 12, 2023, Capt. Charles (“Chad”) Cate. A Sequim native, a first responder and a youth sports coach — Cate, 46, was found deceased in his Clallam County Fire District 3 bunk in the early morning hours.

“I know people whose names will be on the memorial, so this means a lot to me personally, but its relevance touches every community in our state,” said Van De Wege, a career-long firefighter.

“It’s hard for me to think of more important or rewarding work than the public safety of my neighbors, but for too many of my colleagues that service has come at a steep price.”

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other newspapers Peninsula News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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