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Thursday, June 4, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New Memorial A Tribute To Fallen Firefighters

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

The two life-sized bronze figures standing, and even the two on their knees, in Pioneer Square's Occidental Park are an imposing tribute to Seattle's fallen firefighters - 34 of them, dating back more than a century.

Their anonymity, says Seattle artist Hai Ying Wu, is no accident.

Wu says the four bronze figures, set in a grove of trees at the south end of the small city park, could be any of the thousands of firefighters who have donned the uniform of the Seattle Fire Department.

The work, he says, is a tribute to all of them.

Engraved in a granite stone near the 500-pound figures in the Seattle Fallen Firefighters Memorial is Wu's own description: They are "represented realistically yet with exaggerated gestures to emphasize the intensity of the battle in which they are engaged."

Wu and other workers were in Occidental Park yesterday, installing the memorial in time for Saturday's unveiling - a highlight of Pioneer Square's annual Fire Festival that marks the 1889 Great Seattle Fire.

The unveiling will undoubtedly add a somber note to an event that traditionally has been festive and, at times, even a little frivolous.

Anticipation has been great for the completion of the memorial, which was inspired by the deaths of the four Seattle firefighters in the Pang warehouse fire in the Chinatown International District on Jan. 5, 1995.

The names of the four - Walter D. Kilgore, Randall Terlicker, Gregory Allen Shoemaker and James T. Brown - are etched in granite near the figures.

So are the others, from Herman Larson, who served aboard the fireboat Snoqualmie and died March 3, 1891, and up to Gary V. Medica, a firefighter from Engine 27 who suffered a heart attack while battling the Pang warehouse blaze and died nearly a year later. His is the most recent entry on the honor roll.

The faces of the figures are intentionally covered by oxygen masks and head gear, obscuring gender, race or individual identity.

"It was not appropriate to deal with those issues in this piece," says Norman Taylor, the memorial's project manager, who heads the sculpture program at University of Washington's School of Art, where the memorial was produced. Wu was a graduate student there.

The memorial, at Occidental Avenue South and South Main Street, less than a block from Station 10, the Seattle Fire Department's headquarters, is attracting attention from passers-by.

"Oh! It's great," said Ben Hruska, who works in a nearby architectural office.

On Saturday, an American flag, the size of the one that flies above the Kingdome, will cover the memorial until it is unveiled.

Charles E. Brown's phone message number is 206-464-2206. His e-mail address is: cbro-new@seatimes.com

----------------- Saturday's events -----------------

The unveiling will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Occidental Park, Occidental Avenue South and South Main Street.

The park also will be the main site for the annual Pioneer Square Fire Festival that day, featuring a parade of antique and modern fire engines along First Avenue from University Street to the park from 10 to 11 a.m.

Festivities are scheduled until 6 p.m.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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