Firefighters raising money to put on Charleston Nine Memorial ceremony

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 4:17 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The financial impact of the pandemic has reached a longtime tradition honoring nine firefighters that lost their lives in the line of duty. But firefighters in the department are determined to have the annual memorial ceremony.

Every year, bells ring and bagpipes play in honor of the Charleston Nine, a group of firefighters who lost their lives battling the blaze at an old sofa store 14 years ago.

“I have many friends in the fire department that were affected by losing their friends and colleagues,” President of the Charleston Firefighters Association Local 61, Steven Azzarella said. “To me, it’s an honor, a privilege to remember these guys and to put on an event for them.”

But this year, the financial impact of the pandemic led to tough decisions for the fire department’s operational budget.

“Within the operations budget was the special events line item which was zeroed out,” Charleston Deputy Fire Chief Jason Krusen said. “That line item includes graduations and the Charleston Nine Memorial.”

However, Krusen says they were determined to find the $10,000 needed to put the event on.

“The effort of the fire department was always going to be to take funds from other line items to be able to cover the cost of that,” Krusen said.

So, the Charleston Firefighters Association Local 61 stepped in, planning a fundraiser using a favorite Charleston pastime, golf.

“So the Charleston Firefighters Association has put on a golf tournament on June 14 at the Muni Golf Course at proximately 9 o’clock is our start time to raise the funds for this event,” Azzarella said.

The golf tournament will cost $80 per golfer and all proceeds will go toward the memorial ceremony and future events.

Krusen said he’s proud of the creativity and drive by firefighters to make sure the ceremony still goes on.

“It’s really heartwarming to know that not only our membership but the community wants to see that the legacy of those nine firefighters, that lost their lives, continue,” Krusen said.

Anyone interested in participating can reach out to Local 61 at

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