03/04/12 — City Fire Dept. gets 9/11 chin strap

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City Fire Dept. gets 9/11 chin strap

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 4, 2012 1:50 AM

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Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley holds his new hat. The strap, which was formerly only gold, now sports a red line which is in remembrance of fallen firefighters.

The Goldsboro Fire Department is making a subtle change to its dress attire to recognize firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

The chin strap that runs above the brim of the firefighters' bell caps, which are worn during formal events such as parades, funerals and other ceremonies, will now be replaced with a commemorative 9/11 strap.

Whaley, who recently approved the uniform change, said the new straps not only pay tribute to the New York City firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001, but all firefighters killed while serving their communities.

"I think it is important to not forget the sacrifices that were made on 9/11 and all fallen firefighters," Whaley said.

The chin straps are not a mandatory department-wide change. Instead, firefighters are given the option to buy the straps, which are sold for $12.95. Nearly half of the purchase price is donated to two charitable organizations -- the North Carolina State Firemen's Association and the National Fallen Firefighter's Sept. 11th Memorial Fund.

The straps come in three different styles for the various bell caps that are issued by rank.

All the straps have a red "blood line" running through the center, but the background of the straps vary, with officers wearing gold, engineers wearing white and officers wearing black.

Assistant Chief James Farfour said the memorial straps, which were originally used by a national Honor Guard, were discovered when the department was preparing to purchase new gear, including a replacement bell cap for Whaley.

The new straps have a simple appearance, which Farfour said goes in line with the traditionally plain uniforms worn by firefighters.

He said the recognition the straps provide to fallen firefighters, and the prospect of raising money for charities that benefit victims and their families, made the items attractive to Goldsboro firefighters.

"It shows unity of the fire service," Farfour said.

Farfour said some of the firefighters serving today were children when 9/11 shook the nation and by adding the chin straps to the dress uniforms, the memory of the 343 firefighters and first responders who paid the ultimate price is passed to the younger generation.

"Some of the firefighters, you got to remember were only 9 or 10 years old on 9/11," he said. "This is a good way to connect them to what happened and pay a tribute to the firefighters that died that day."