OREGON – On New Year’s Eve, one woman’s fence will bear more than 130 red glow sticks in honor of firefighters who died in the line of duty this year.
Karen “Kitten” Davis, a former firefighter and EMT, will keep an eye on the death tally until 11:55 p.m., at which point she’ll add any additional glow sticks needed to her fence before making a toast.
“At midnight, we make a toast and we pour it on the ground,” she said. “Then I do a final call-out.”
On Jan. 1, Davis will add glow sticks for any firefighters who die on New Year’s Eve. The glow sticks will be left out for two- to three days until their light dies out – a process that resembles life, she said.
Davis did the same thing at the end of 2020, but in remembrance of fallen police officers.
“I can only support them,” said Davis, who suffered a back injury in 2020 that forced her to take a sabbatical.
She had decided to honor firefighters this year prior to the death of Sterling Fire Department Capt. Garrett Ramos.
Ramos, 38, died fighting a house fire in rural Rock Falls that broke out on about midnight Dec. 3. The floor gave out and Ramos fell into the basement.
An exact cause of death is pending.
Ramos is the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in the department’s history.
“It made it even more fitting to do firefighters this year,” Davis said.
Everyone is welcome to come by on Dec. 31, she said. People should feel free to drive by, or park and get a closer view of the memorial.
Davis said she will have some extra fire pits going on Dec. 31 for people who want to park.
“Since we did lose [one of] our own, somebody might want to come out and hang one on the fence themselves, and they’re more than welcome to do that,” she said. “If they want to come over and stop and talk about their hero, they’re more than welcome to.”
She won’t approach anyone who does stop, instead respecting that they might need space, Davis said. That said, passersby are welcome to approach her, she said.
Davis lives at 1423 East Flagg Road in Ogle County.