EAST PEORIA — The East Peoria Fire Department conducted the 32nd annual Firefighter Memorial Service on Sunday that included a special guest fire truck and the naming of the city's fire department employee of the year.
Sunday's service honored the four East Peoria firefighters who died in the line of duty. They are firefighter George E. Cornwell Sr. and assistant chief Marvin Stein, who both died Jan. 28, 1959, during a fire at the Green Gables tavern on Meadow Avenue; captain Armando E. Ballerini, who died June 12, 1972, after having a heart attack at a fire scene; and firefighter William A. Folmar, who died Sept. 27, 1980, when he was hit by a vehicle while on the scene of an accident on Interstate 74's Murray Baker Bridge.
The ceremony featured the appearance of the 1939 Diamond T fire engine, which is an original EP Fire Department pumper. Three of the firefighters memorialized during Sunday's service — Cornwell, Stein and Ballerini — actually responded to calls in the Diamond T pumper that was discovered and identified in Wapella last year after leaving service in East Peoria in 1955.
The ceremony was attended by family members of the fallen firefighters, some who come from out of state each year. It included a performance by the East Peoria Community High School Chorale and the Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums, a bell-ringing ceremony and the naming of the department's employee of the year, that went to firefighter and paramedic April Huffstutler.
Huffstutler, a 20-year veteran of the fire department, was selected in part because of her work with the fire department's public education program. She took over as program coordinator in 2017 and has expanded the activities that are presented to every East Peoria grade school and pre-school student and provides presentations and safety material throughout the year to businesses, organizations and at community events.
The memorial service was held Sunday afternoon at the Festival Building at 2200 E. Washington Street in East Peoria.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at email@example.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.