SAN ANTONIO -

The San Antonio Fire Department is paying tribute to fallen firefighters with a memorial statue that is now permanently on display at the entrance to the Fire Training Academy on 300 S. Callaghan Rd..

A dedication and unveiling ceremony was held on Wednesday morning, with local dignitaries and family members in attendance.

The ceremony honored fallen firefighters and the families left behind.

Jo Ann Dickinson attended the ceremony with her mother and sisters. Her father, Charles Ehrlich (pictured), died in the line of duty in August 1973. He was only 43 years old. 

Dickinson was 17 year old at the time. 

"It was a summer day -- a Tuesday. I remember it very well," she said. "We'll never forget him and we miss him terribly. We love him very very much."

Ehrlich is one of 28 San Antonio firefighters who died in the line of duty since the year 1896.

Each of their names is on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

Firefighter Paul Longoria was in attendance to honor his late grandfather, John R. Rodriguez, who passed away during a fire in 1950.

"He was fighting a fire and got caught in an attic in a back-draft," said Longoria.

Although Longoria never met his grandfather, he said he was inspired by him and followed in his footsteps. He's been with the San Antonio Fire Department for 33 years.

"It's a dangerous job. We always try to be careful out there. We're very concerned with all of our brothers and sisters out there," he said.

Former SAFD Fire Chief Robert Ojeda raised the money to fund the project, which was brought to life by the nonprofit group Citizens For Increased Rescue Effectiveness (C-FIRE). 

"It's wonderful because it honors the men that gave the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve to be recognized for their service and dedication to the city and the citizens," said Longoria.

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