LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Little Rock architect who was pulled from a fiery head-on collision by firefighters in Oklahoma more than 25 years ago has donated his firm’s time and services to help build a nearly complete memorial to Arkansas firefighters on the grounds of the state Capitol in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial will feature the names of 99 Arkansas firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1889 and was designed by Jackson Brown Palculict Architects, a firm that includes architect Brooks Jackson.
“It’s the most wonderful feeling I guess I’ve ever experienced,” Jackson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
On June 1, 1986, Jackson was driving his wife, daughter and daughter’s friend in Tahlequah, Okla., when his vehicle was struck head-on by a car that had attempted to pass a tractor-trailer. His car caught fire, and he remembers firefighters removing the family from the wreckage and putting out the blaze.
Jackson said he was drawn to the memorial project when a notice went out for architectural services more than 10 years ago. He said the firm made the decision to donate all its services, including the architectural, mechanical and structural work for the memorial.
“We owe firefighters a lot, personally, and we’ve enjoyed working with them professionally, too,” he said.
Crossett Fire Department Chief James Launius, who has been involved in the project since its inception in the 1980s, said the donation allowed the project to move forward after two decades of fundraising.
“We couldn’t have done it without them. If it hadn’t been for that, we would’ve had to raise even more money,” Launius said.
The memorial on the west side of the Capitol includes a statue that features firefighters ranging from those who battle forest fires to those who primarily handle structure fires and also recognizes the emergency medical services that firefighters provide.