By Steve Tawa

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –  A solemn memorial plaque dedication in memory of the first female Philadelphia firefighter killed in the line of duty drew family members of Lieutenant Joyce Craig, and members of her extended family of firefighters, and city officials.

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It began with bagpipers playing “Amazing Grace,” as firefighters snapped a salute, and stood at attention, at her final station, Engine 64 along Rising Sun Avenue in the Lawncrest section.

Mayor Nutter told the gathering “our hearts are still heavy.”

“If we do our duty half as well as Lt. Joyce Craig, we will have lived a good life. Long live the memory of Lt. Joyce Craig. God bless you.”


Mayor Nutter greets Lt. Craig's family at Engine 64. (credit: Steve Tawa)

Mayor Nutter greets Lt. Craig’s family at Engine 64. (credit: Steve Tawa)

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Lt. Craig, a 36-year old mother of two and an 11-year veteran in the Fire Department died after getting caught in a West Oak Lane house fire in 2014, at which an elderly resident was safely evacuated.

Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer says while she was unfortunately the first female firefighter to die in the line of duty in the city, he looks for positives in the tragedy.

“It shows progress, in a sense. When I came onto the job, we wouldn’t have been able to have her as a first, because we didn’t have females in the fire department.”

(credit: Steve Tawa)

(credit: Steve Tawa)


James Binns, the Philadelphia lawyer and force behind the dedication of what now amounts to 276 hero plaques, for police and firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice, says it was an honor to be with the family of Lt. Craig.

“We are truly committed to preserving the memory of your loved one and our hero.”

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Then a portable fire department bell was tolled, signaling the “Last Call.”