31 California firefighters memorialized in annual ceremony

The names of 31 firefighters were added to the California Firefighters Memorial Saturday, bringing together hundreds of firefighters from across the state.

They were joined by the public and families of fallen firefighters for the yearly tradition meant to honor and immortalize those who died protecting their fellow Californians.

Of the 31 firefighters memorialized Saturday, four served in the Central Valley.

  • Darwin Vargas, Cal Fire
  • Gerald Hartman, Marysville
  • Michael Hallenbeck, United States Forest Service
  • Timothy Anderson, Sacramento County Airport Fire Department


Darwin Vargas, Gerald Hartman, Michael Hallenbeck, and Timothy Anderson were honored in the annual California Firefighters Memorial.

In addition to having their names etched into the memorial, each firefighter’s family or department was presented with a personalized plaque and framed American flag.

“Very hard to see your son’s name in granite, but it was a very touching ceremony. The support of the firefighter community means a lot to us,” said Kirby Hallenbeck, the father of Michael Hallenbeck.

Hallenbeck’s son died two years ago while fighting a fire near Echo Summit.

“He lived on that mountain, he worked on that mountain and he protected the community on that mountain and he died on that mountain,” Hallenbeck said.

Some, like Hallenbeck’s son, died in the midst of fighting fires.

Others died as the result of job-related illnesses.

“Today, we are not here to focus on loss or the pain of your loss. Today, we are here rather to honor your loved ones’ lives,” said Lou Paulson, California Professional Firefighters president.

The 31 firefighters honored Saturday join more than 1,300 names already on the wall.


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