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March 1, 2013

Memorial to honor officers, firefighters

PEABODY — This city’s public safety workers are raising money to install a memorial honoring both police officers and firefighters.

As fire Capt. Dale Kimball explained to the City Council last night, the notion of raising $150,000 and installing such a monument came out of conversations following the death of firefighter Jim Rice in December 2011.

Rice fell in the line of the duty, fighting a blaze on Hancock Street.

“This is not just the Fire Department,” Kimball stressed, however, adding that in the wake of Rice’s death, “The Police Department treated us with nothing but respect.”

The proposed memorial, designed by Skylight Studios, features two life-size figures, a police officer in summer uniform and a fully equipped firefighter, flanking a “flame.” Kimball revealed an intention to have “24/7” illumination of the monument.

“It’s a state-of-the-art memorial,” he said. “Nobody on the North Shore has anything like this.”

It would be erected on Perkins Street at the location of the old parks and recreation building, a spot considered to be roughly halfway between the police and fire headquarters.

Some of the cost would be raised by selling engraved bricks of various sizes, according to firefighter Russell Lewis, along with granite benches. Funds would be handled by someone not directly connected with police or fire — Peabody chiropractor Todd Buckley.

Councilors were uniformly supportive of the idea, although Dave Gamache raised the possibility that the monument ought to be movable in anticipation of a day when the Police and Fire departments operate out of the same buildings. Both their headquarters, he noted, “are obsolete.”

Kimball acknowledged that this was something to consider. “That’s good advice.”

“It makes me personally very proud to be from Peabody,” Councilor Mike Garabedian said of the plan.

“It’s a great tribute you’re going to do,” Councilor Barry Sinewitz said.

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