Artist/Designer: Byron Gash, Statue Design; Tom Corbin, Sculptor; Larkin Associates, Fountain Design
Description: This fountain located at the south end of Penn Valley Park is a collaborative effort from many private sources to pay tribute to the men and women of the city’s firefighters and memorialize those who have given their lives in the line of duty. The fountain features two bronze figures surrounded by 48 streams of water falling into an 80-foot wide basin. A bronze large than life sculpture of a firefighter with his head bowed is directly to the north of the fountain.Behind the sculpture is a curved stone wall with bronze plaques that list the name of the fallen firefighters.
Talk about creating a firemen’s memorial began in 1968. Not much was done after 1974 until the mid-1980s when a site and design were chosen– before the 1988 tragedy.
Six firefighters died suddenly in an huge explosion in 1988 and the community was spurred to support the campaign to create the fountain and the memorial tribute to all firefighters.
Renovations Dedicated: September 11, 2015
Arizona artist Barbara Grygutis was selected through a Call-For-Artists process in 2011 to create a site-specific artwork for the Firefighters Fountain and Memorial in Penn Valley Park. The artist met several times with the project steering committee and developed a design which incorporated particular goals for the site, including re-working and correcting the names of fallen firefighters included in the memorial. The art project consists of two large, segmented, curved ‘walls’, each consisting of a double row of perforated aluminum panels, mounted on a low limestone wall. Solid aluminum plaques will be mounted on one side, etched with the names of fallen firefighters.
The perforated aluminum panels are lit from inside with blue LED lights. The blue light is intended to create a calming and peaceful atmosphere, and to symbolize knowledge, integrity, seriousness, reliability and trust.
The granite bases in the circle at the north side of the site display etched names of fallen firefighters. But those surfaces are filled, and the names are unevenly distributed. In addition, research done by the Fire Department revealed some names which had been left off and others which had errors in spelling or dates. The new aluminum name panels have the corrected information on the new art walls. But the existing granite bases will remain in the circle, and will have new metal panels attached on their surfaces, which will also describe significant events in the history of Kansas City’s Fire Department.