Joyce Craig can never be repaid for the sacrifice she made, said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer as he closed his brief remarks in front of the Lawncrest fire house on Rising Sun Avenue Wednesday evening.
Every day, Craig will be remembered by colleagues on duty at the fire station, Sawyer said. Her locker, No. 8, is now retired, and a wreath hangs from the locker door. One entire wall of the lobby is covered with paintings, photos and badges.
The small ceremony at the Engine 64 Fire House marked the anniversary of Craig’s death early on the morning of Dec. 9, 2014, while battling a fire in the West Oak Lane section of the city. Posthumously promoted to lieutenant, Craig was the first female firefighter to die while serving the Philadelphia Fire Department.
The ceremony was held as part of the healing process, said Sawyer. While the family will never forget, events such as this will make their road a little lighter, he said.
When a community suffers the loss of someone in blue, it is important to always remember them, said Kathy Wersinger, a resident and employee of Councilwoman Marian Tasco’s office. The memorial service was a joint effort between the community and Philadelphia Fire Fighters and Paramedics Union Local 22.
A fire department campaign to promote the installation of smoke detectors is resulting in fewer fires, Sawyer said. The wider use of these devices means fewer firefighters have to run into burning buildings. So far this year, the department has had the fewest injuries in its history. Three three years ago, 24 firefighters were injured; that rate has decreased by half.